Patient catches Covid twice in just 48 hours sparking fears for immunity plan
A man has been reinfected with coronavirus within 48 days of first catching the illness, suggesting immunity might not last very long.
The 25-year-old patient, in Washoe County, Nevada, USA, was infected with two distinct variants of the virus while testing negative in between.
His second infection was more severe, with symptoms including fever, headache, nausea and diarrhoea, resulting in his hospitalisation.
It is the first confirmed reinfection in the USA, and only the fifth worldwide.
The patient has now been discharged from hospital. He had no known health problems or immune defects that would make him more susceptible to contracting Covid-19.
Dr Mark Pandori, from the University of Nevada, led a study into the man's condition for the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
He 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.
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"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.
The other confirmed reinfections were in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Ecuador.
But before the case in the US, only the patient in Ecuador displayed a more severe reaction in the second infection.
Dr Pandori added: "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."
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