In yet another blow to the ‘herd immunity’ theory, a 25-year-old was reinfected with the coronavirus in less than 48 days. This is yet another example of how getting infected with COVID-19 is not a guarantee for future immunity. What worries researchers is the fact that the second infection was more serious and the patient was more seriously ill. This is the first confirmed case of reinfection in the United States, reported the Lancet. According to the report, the man is a resident of Washoe County in Nevada. He was first tested positive for the novel coronavirus on April 18. During follow-up check ups, the man was tested negative twice in the month of Monday. However, he was against tested positive on June 5.
According to the Lancet, the patient showed more severe symptoms in the reinfection, this is against the standard belief that in cases of reinfection, the patient shows mild symptoms. The researchers found that there were many differences in the strains and were ‘too much to be explained by short-term viral evolution within the body.’
“Genetic discordance of the two SARS-CoV-2 specimens was greater than could be accounted for by short-term in vivo evolution. These findings suggest that the patient was infected by the novel coronavirus on two separate occasions by a genetically distinct virus,” researchers from the University of Nevada, Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, and other organizations wrote in the article.
The researchers said that these findings suggest that everyone, whether previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 or not, should take similar precautions. “The implications could be relevant for the development of the vaccine,” the scientists added.
Commenting on the findings, Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said that most of us have thought that the reinfection was likely to become common as individuals’ immunity levels declined post infection. The latest finding clearly states that we cannot rely on immunity as this strategy could be lethal for many.
So far, cases of coronavirus reinfections have been reported in Belgium, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Ecuador. But this is only the second time when the reinfected person showed more serious symptoms when the virus returned.