Since the coronavirus pandemic began, doctors have sporadic reports through the world, of patients seemingly getting reinfected with the novel coronavirus. These coronavirus infection claims got critical new evidence when Hong Kong scientists reported a healthy 33-year-old man who became reinfected with coronavirus four and a half months after his first bout.
This particular case of re-infection has sparked doubts among the masses about ever gaining immunity against the pathogen. Scientists say genome sequencing shows the two strains of the virus are “clearly different,” making it the world’s first proven re-infection case.
Research Suggests Coronavirus Reinfection Is Rare And Unlikely.
The World Health Organization epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove warns it is important not to jump to conclusions based on one patient’s case. Experts from WHO say re-infections may be rare and not necessarily dangerous. More than 23 million COVID-19 cases have been registered, and the deadly pandemic devastation toll is on a chaotic rise. Earlier, the Doctors and Scientists claimed that recovered patients develop an immune response as their bodies fight off the virus, which protects them against it returning.
Hong Kong Reports ‘First Case’ Of Virus Reinfection.
The report by the University of Hong Kong claimed that the 33-year-old resident of Hong Kong tested negative after recovering and spent 14 days in the hospital without showing any symptoms. The patient was earlier diagnosed positive for the SARS-COV-2 RT PCR test and was hospitalized on March 29, 2020. After showing two negative SARS-COV-2 RT PCR tests, the patient was discharged on April 14, 2020.
The man was hospitalized again on August 15, 2020, when he was tested positive for the virus a second time, following a saliva test during airport screening. The man remained asymptotic all along with a temperature of 36.5℃ and a pulse rate of 86 beats per minute. Genome analysis revealed the virus has mutated and belonged to a different lineage.
Earlier, South Korea’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study to monitor COVID-19 re-infection chances. Almost 285 people, who were diagnosed positive after recovery were reported to be monitored under this study. The observations revealed that none of the patients’ new samples contained enough virus particles to allow researchers to grow the virus from the samples in a lab. This indicated that the patients weren’t actively infected with the virus, and the diagnostic tests likely had detected dead virus particles that remained in their bodies, or the test was a false positive. The study also revealed that none of the patients who re-tested positive for the coronavirus transmitted the pathogen to others.
Why Do Some People Experience COVID-19 Symptoms Twice?
Scientists say more research is needed to answer the question of why some patients appear to fall ill with COVID-19 more than once, but some believe that such patients relapse because the coronavirus lays dormant in their bodies and reemerges—an occurrence that’s been seen with some viruses that often result in lifetime immunity, such as the Chickenpox virus.
It also may be possible that some patients experience a long course of infection that ramps up months after they first contract the coronavirus and initially experience symptoms of Covid-19, some experts have said. And others have speculated that some patients may contract a different virus with similar symptoms to COVID-19 and assume they’ve been reinfected with the coronavirus.
Jeffrey Barrett, an expert, and consultant with the COVID-19 Genome Project at Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute said in an emailed comment to Reuters that getting a reliable inference from such limited observation is very hard.
“Given the number of global infections to date, seeing one case of re-infection is not that surprising even if it is a very rare occurrence,” he said.