Monday, 25 Jan 2021

Man in US becomes fifth person in world reinfected with coronavirus

A 25-year-old man has become the first American to be reinfected with coronavirus.

Researchers in the US say it is the fifth confirmed reinfection worldwide, with at least four other cases recorded in Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Ecuador.

The patient, from Washoe County, Nevada, had no known immune disorders or underlying health conditions.

But his second infection was more severe than the first, with doctors putting him on oxygen support in hospital.

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This comes as Donald Trump boasted to a packed rally in Florida that he is now ‘immune’ from coronavirus after being given experimental medication and other VIP treatment.

Dr Anthony Fauci – the nation’s top infectious-disease expert – said recovered patients were likely to be immune for a limited period of time, but he pointed to the cases of people being reinfected weeks or months later.

The Nevada patient first tested positive for the virus in April this year, and later tested negative on two separate occasions.

He was then admitted to hospital and tested positive for a second time in June after experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, including fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea and diarrhoea.

Genetic sequencing of the virus showed he was infected twice by different strains of coronavirus.

Lead researcher Mark Pandori, from the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, said: ‘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.’

The researchers said further studies are required, but said their findings indicate previous exposure to the virus may not guarantee total immunity, and that all individuals should comply with control measures.

Mr Pandori said they still need to understand how long immunity may last for those exposed to the virus, and why second infections, while rare, appear to be more severe.

The researchers said the second infection’s severity may be down to the patient encountering a very high dose of the virus when he was reinfected.

He may have also come into contact with a more virulent version of the virus.

They added that confirmed reinfections had occurred among patients who showed symptoms, meaning that reinfections could occur among those who are asymptomatic and therefore go undetected.

Mr Pandori added: ‘Overall, there is a lack of comprehensive genomic sequencing of positive Covid-19 cases both in the USA and worldwide, as well as a lack of screening and testing, which limits the ability of researchers and public health officials to diagnose, monitor, and obtain genetic tracking for the virus.’

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