Home / Health / Documented Covid-19 reinfection in Nevada adds to questions about virus immunity

Documented Covid-19 reinfection in Nevada adds to questions about virus immunity



A Nevada man became the first published case of Covid-19 reinfection in the United States, adding to a growing number of examples around the world signaling that patients who have recovered from the viral disease may still be at risk of contracting it. again.

In an article in the medical journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, a group of authors including researchers from the University of Nevada report the case of a 25-year-old who suffered two bouts of Covid-19 infection, one confirmed by testing in mid-April and the second at the beginning of June. Symptoms in the second case began in late May, a month after the patient reported that his initial symptoms had resolved.

The two strains of the virus were genetically distinct, signaling that it is unlikely humans simply unknowingly became infected with the virus over a longer period, the authors wrote. The document notes that the patient̵

7;s second case of Covid-19 was more serious than the first, requiring supplemental oxygen and hospitalization after suffering from shortness of breath.

Understanding the Coronavirus

The Nevada case comes after similar cases of reinfection from locations such as Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ecuador. The growing number of examples in the medical literature reinforces the evidence that immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, could in at least some cases only last for a limited period, similar to the coronaviruses that cause the common cold, the researchers said.

“We know that it is certainly possible to be reinfected by this virus, and that the second infection is just as serious, or more severe, than the first,” said Mark Pandori, an author of the article and director of Nevada and associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. It is not yet clear how common such reinfections are, he said.

Reports of reinfection imply that it may be difficult to gain broad population immunity to the novel coronavirus without a vaccine, the researchers said. “It certainly raises serious concerns that natural cases will not give us herd immunity,” said Otto Yang, a professor at the Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Emerging reports of reinfection don’t necessarily signal problems for efforts to create an effective vaccine, said Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale University, who wrote a comment on the new paper. “Just because natural infection doesn’t provide protection doesn’t mean vaccines can’t,” he said. “It’s a separate matter.”

The authors of the Nevada case study noted that they were unable to assess the patient’s immune response to the first infection. After his second illness, he produced antibodies, the newspaper said. The patient had no known immunological disorders that would have hindered his body’s ability to mount a defense against the virus.

“One possibility is that these people did not generate a good immune response after the first infection,” said Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. However, he said, “it remains to be proven.”

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Write to Anna Wilde Mathews at anna.mathews@wsj.com

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