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COVID-19 rebound symptoms

Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team

Updated on


  • COVID-19 rebound is a situation in which the symptoms of COVID-19 reappear after feeling better for a while.
  • A relapse of the symptoms of COVID-19 is not the same as long COVID
  • Rebound COVID-19 symptoms are usually less severe than the symptoms of the original infection. 

COVID rebound, also known as a COVID relapse, is a recurrence of the symptoms of COVID-19 after you feel better for a while. As this situation can cause doubts surrounding your condition and level of contagiousness, our medical team created a full guide explaining the COVID rebound, its symptoms, and what to do about it. 

What is rebound COVID? 

COVID rebound is the term used when someone experiences COVID symptoms again or tests positive for COVID-19 after they initially recovered from the coronavirus infection. COVID rebound is not the same as long COVID, a situation in which the coronavirus symptoms linger for weeks to months after the initial infection. COVID relapse usually happens after 1 week, although it can also occur a bit earlier or later after resolution of the initial illness. A COVID rebound is not associated with a higher risk of hospitalization or death, and there’s also no link with the vaccination status or a specific variant of COVID-19. 1

What causes COVID rebound? 

The exact mechanism behind COVID rebound is not yet known, but research showed that some groups of people are more prone to a COVID relapse. COVID-19 rebound symptoms can occur in people of all ages and races. However, studies indicate that there’s a higher chance of a COVID rebound in those who have a weakened immune system, those with underlying health conditions, and those who smoke. 2

COVID relapse can occur in patients who received antiviral treatment such as Paxlovid or Molnupiravir for their condition. However, it can also occur in people who didn’t receive any treatment for their infection with the coronavirus. 3 Virus detection and the recurrence of COVID-19 symptoms following the use of antiviral therapies have not been associated with progression to severe COVID-19. 4 Thus, concerns about viral rebound or the recurrence of symptoms should not be a reason to avoid using antiviral therapies when their use is suggested.

What are typical COVID rebound symptoms? 

COVID rebound is not worse than the initial symptoms of the COVID-19 infection. Symptoms are usually more likely to be milder than typical COVID symptoms. Some typical COVID rebound symptoms which you may experience are: 5 6

How long does COVID rebound last? 

The COVID rebound timeline varies from person to person, but overall symptoms tend to decrease within 6 days after the first positive test result. Approximately after 3 days of feeling better, symptoms can start to reappear. Once the symptoms have reappeared, it takes about a week on average to resolve the viral condition. 7

How to treat COVID rebound?

The symptoms of a COVID rebound can usually be treated with at-home remedies such as: 8

  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs such as Paracetamol, Ibuprofen or Naproxen 
  • Reducing your fever by resting, drinking plenty of water and taking Paracetamol or Ibuprofen 
  • Reducing your cough by sitting upright instead of laying on your back and contacting your healthcare provider about possible cough medication 

For most people, these remedies should be enough to find relief while your immune system is overcoming the infection. Yet, suppose you’re at high risk of severe symptoms due to COVID-19. In that case, it’s crucial to contact your healthcare provider for possible treatment options to limit your chances of falling severely ill or requiring hospitalization. 

Regardless of your risk profile, it’s always important to monitor your symptoms and to contact your doctor if: 9

  • You’re gradually feeling worse
  • You have difficulty breathing when standing upright 
  • You feel very weak, and basic tasks feel too difficult
  • You’re shaking or shivering
  • You still feel unwell after a month

It's essential to know that you are contagious if you're experiencing a COVID rebound. It would be best to keep a safe distance from others, especially those at high risk of developing severe symptoms when infected with the coronavirus. 

Wrapping up

The recurrent symptoms that occur during a COVID rebound are usually mild when compared to usual COVID-19 symptoms. However, it's still essential to monitor your symptoms and to seek medical help if you have any underlying medical conditions that may put you at risk of severe illness due to the coronavirus. 


Q: Can you feel better then feel sick again with COVID-19?
A: It’s possible to feel better then feel sick again with COVID-19. This is called COVID rebound or COVID relapse. 

Q: Is COVID rebound worse? 
A: COVID rebound symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of the original infection, with only a small number of people developing severe symptoms.  

Q: What to do about COVID rebound? 
A: If you’re experiencing the symptoms of a COVID rebound, it’s important to take plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and seek medical help if you’re at risk of severe illness due to your condition. Also, keeping a safe distance from others is vital, as you’re still contagious. 

Q: Are you contagious with rebound COVID? 
A: COVID rebound is contagious, so you should keep your distance from others, especially those at risk of developing severe symptoms due to the coronavirus. 

Q: Can COVID rebound after 2 weeks? 
A: Usually, a COVID relapse happens after about a week. The rebound COVID timeline varies nonetheless. So, it’s also possible to experience COVID rebound after 2 weeks.