How long does it take to recover from coronavirus? When are you considered healthy?

Dr. Frank McGeorge answers viewer question about coronavirus

DETROIT – There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about the coronavirus, so Local 4 is letting viewers submit questions so we can find verified answers.

Click here if you want to submit a question about the coronavirus.

Dr. Frank McGeorge wants to verify or refute any information about the coronavirus, but there are also some questions experts still don’t know the answer to. McGeorge is discussing them because acknowledging what we don’t know is just as important as verifying information so people don’t rely on incorrect answers.

Recovery time

A very common question from viewers is, how long does it take to recover from the coronavirus?

First of all, compared to other countries, the United States is at the beginning of the outbreak, and as more people are diagnosed and recover, experts will have better data.

But so far, the best information we have on the speed of recovery comes from a World Health Organization study examining more than 55,000 cases in China. They found that, on average, wild mild illness, the time from the onset of symptoms to recovery was two weeks.

That timeframe was also supported in a published report on the clinical course of the first U.S. case of coronavirus. That man recovered in just over two weeks.

The information from the Chinese data also shows that for more seriously ill and critical patients, recovery took as long as three to six weeks.

When are you healthy?

When are you considered recovered after having coronavirus? In order to be considered completely recovered in the U.S., one of two conditions must be met -- either you have to have two negative swab tests separated by at least 24 hours or, based on a CDC update Monday, at least 72 hours has passed after both respiratory symptoms and fever have resolved.

Health officials also want at least seven days to have passed since the onset of symptoms. That means, using those guidelines, the quickest minimum recovery would be 10 days.

Part of the reason there are two definitions of recovery -- one based on symptoms, the other based on testing -- is that we need to prioritize testing for diagnosis, not recovery testing.

About the Authors: