A coronavirus patient in the US has been reinfected within 48 days, suggesting immunity may not last long all. The case is the first in the US, and the fifth confirmed reinfection worldwide. The patient, 25, lives in Washoe County, Nevada, and was infected with two distinct SARS-CoV-2 variants within 48 days, while testing negative in between infections.
His second infection was more severe, with symptoms including fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea and diarrhoea, resulting in hospitalisation. Thankfully, the patient has now been discharged from hospital.
Dr Mark Pandori, who led the study, said: “There are still many unknowns about SARS-CoV-2 infections and the immune system’s response, but our findings signal that a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection may not necessarily protect against future infection. “It is important to note this is a singular finding and does not provide generalisability of this phenomenon. While more research is needed, the possibility of reinfections could have significant implications for our understanding of COVID-19 immunity, especially in the absence of an effective vaccine.
“It also strongly suggests that individuals who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 should continue to take serious precautions when it comes to the virus, including social distancing, wearing face masks, and handwashing.” This is the fifth confirmed case of reinfection worldwide, with other cases confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Ecuador.
However, only the case in Ecuador displayed a more severe reaction in the second infection. Dr Pandori said: “We need more research to understand how long immunity may last for people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and why some of these second infections, while rare, are presenting as more severe.
“So far, we’ve only seen a handful of reinfection cases, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more, especially as many cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic. Right now, we can only speculate about the cause of reinfection.”