I read on https://www.thehealthy.com/infectious-disease/how-long-can-you-test-positive-for-covid/ (mirror):

According to the CDC, you can test positive up to three months after exposure even though you probably won’t be contagious for that long. But these parameters may vary among vaccinated individuals.

However, I would like to have a better idea of the distribution of for how many one tests positive for COVID-19 after being infected with COVID-19. (E.g., x % of individuals infected with COVID-19 took y days to test negative).

What I have found so far:

  • I did search on Google for quite some time but the seemingly rather easy information is surprisingly difficult to find.

  • I am aware that individuals may test even positive clinical recovery and previous negative results. From {1}:

    Similar to that reported elsewhere {2}, 18% of patients with COVID-19 in our institution became RT-PCR positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA after clinical recovery and previous negative results


  • {1} Liotti  FM, Menchinelli  G, Marchetti  S,  et al.  Positive SARS-CoV-2 RNA test results among patients who recovered from COVID-19 with prior negative results.  * JAMA Intern Med*. Published online November 12, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.7570
    ArticleGoogle Scholar
  • {2} Kang  H, Wang  Y, Tong  Z, Liu  X.  Retest positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA of “recovered” patients with COVID-19: Persistence, sampling issues, or re-infection?  * J Med Virol*. 2020;1-3. doi:10.1002/jmv.26114PubMedGoogle Scholar
  • 1
    "[how long] after being contaminated" is a somewhat irrelevant and hard to determine point for most patients. So I doubt you'll find good stats for this.
    – Fizz
    Aug 9 '21 at 2:33
  • @Fizz can be estimated eg via contact tracing or time it takes to present symptoms. If easier we can directly count days after showing symptoms (which would reduce the statistics to the symptomatic patients). Aug 9 '21 at 2:34
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    "Contaminated" is simply the wrong word and means something entirely different. One might never test positive after coming in contact with the virus, so we have no way of measuring "contamination" or even detecting that it has happened. Just plain wrong word.
    – Carey Gregory
    Aug 9 '21 at 4:06
  • @CareyGregory which word would you use? Aug 9 '21 at 4:07
  • 1
    I would use "infection." It's the only measurable variable.
    – Carey Gregory
    Aug 9 '21 at 5:53

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