A man from the United States has caught COVID-19 twice, with the second infection being far more dangerous than the first, say doctors
The 25-year-old man, who got COVID-19 twice, required hospital treatment after his lungs not being able to get enough oxygen throughout his body.
Cases of reinfection of the coronavirus remain rare, and he has now recovered. But the study in the Lancet Infectious Diseases raises questions about how much immunity can be built up to COVID-19.
The man, who was from the state of Nevada, had no known health issues or immunity defects that would have made him particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
This comes after the aim of the government’s new 3-tier COVID-19 national lockdown system is to get the coronavirus under control by the beginning of next year and hopefully in time for Christmas, a minister has told the press.
Scientists have said that the patient caught COVID-19 twice, rather than the original infection becoming dormant and then coming back. A comparison of the genetic codes of the coronavirus taken during each case of symptoms showed that they were too distinct to be caused by the same infection of the disease.
“Our findings signal that a previous infection may not necessarily protect against future infection,” said Dr Mark Pandori, from the University of Nevada.
“The possibility of reinfections could have significant implications for our understanding of COVID-19 immunity.”
He even said that people who have recovered from COVID-19 should continue to follow the current guidelines around social distancing, such as wearing face masks and consistent hand washing.
Timeline of events
- 25 March – The first wave of symptoms, including sore throat, cough, headache, nausea and diarrhoea
- 18 April – He tests positive for the first time
- 27 April – Initial symptoms fully resolve
- 9 and 26 May – He tests negative for the virus on two occasions
- 28 May – He develops symptoms again, this time including fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea and diarrhoea
- 5 June – He tests positive for the second time, and is hypoxic (low blood oxygen) with shortness of breath
So far, coronavirus reinfection seems to be a rare occurrence; there have only been a few examples of the people becoming infected with COVID-19 for a second time so far out of more than 37 million confirmed cases of infection.
Reports from Hong Kong, Belgium and the Netherlands said that they were not any more serious than the first infection. One case of coronavirus reinfection in Ecuador matched the US case with the second case being more severe but without the need for hospital treatment.
This comes after pork and poultry that has shown “unacceptable” levels of bacteria such as salmonella and E coli will be reaching supermarket shelves within the US and could risk UK trade talks.
Prof Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said the study was “very concerning” because of the small gap between the two infections, and the severity of the second.”
“Given the fact that to date, over 37 million people have had the infection, we would have expected to have heard of many more incidents if such very early reinfections with severe illness were common.
“It is too early to say for certain what the implications of these findings are for any immunisation programme. But these findings reinforce the point that we still do not know enough about the immune response to this infection.”