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First confirmed case of Covid-19 reinfection in the United States



Dr Sonia Macieiewski (R) and Dr Nita Patel, Director of Antibody Discovery and Vaccine Development, examine a sample of a respiratory virus at Novavax Laboratories in Rockville, Maryland on March 20, 2020, a of the laboratories developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

A 25-year-old man in the US state of Nevada has contracted the coronavirus on two separate occasions, a study in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases showed, with the patient becoming seriously ill following the second infection.

It is the first confirmed case of a US patient being reinfected by Covid-1

9 and the fifth known case reported worldwide.

The Washoe County resident, who had no known immune disorders or history of significant underlying conditions, required hospital treatment after testing positive for Covid-19 for the second time.

He has now recovered, although the case raises further questions about the prospect of developing protective immunity against the coronavirus.

To date, more than 37.8 million people have contracted Covid-19 worldwide, with 1.08 million related deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

The WHO chief of emergencies said earlier this month that his “best estimates” indicate that around 1 in 10 people globally may have been infected with the coronavirus, significantly more than the number of confirmed cases.

What happened?

March 25 the peer-reviewed medical journal said in a study that a 25-year-old man in Nevada’s second most populous county experienced a surge of symptoms consistent with a viral infection, including sore throat, cough, headache, nausea and diarrhea.

He showed up at a community testing event organized by the Washoe County Health District on April 18 and tested positive for Covid-19 for the first time.

The patient’s initial symptoms completely resolved during isolation on April 27. From then on he continued to feel good and tested negative for the coronavirus on two separate occasions, on May 9 and May 26.

The 25-year-old has been experiencing symptoms again since May 28, this time including fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea and diarrhea.

On June 5, 48 days after the initial positive test, the patient contracted the virus for the second time. Her condition was found to be symptomatically “more severe” than the first.

He went to a primary care physician and requested inpatient treatment for shortness of breath. He later recovered and was discharged from the hospital.

COVID-19 Coronavirus molecule, March 24, 2020.

CDC | API | Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Scientists said the patient contracted the coronavirus on two separate occasions, rather than the original infection which recovered after going dormant. This is because a comparison of genetic codes showed “significant differences” between each variant associated with each case of infection.

“These results suggest that the patient was infected with SARS-CoV-2 on two separate occasions from a genetically distinct virus. Therefore, previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 may not guarantee total immunity in all cases,” the study authors said.

“All individuals, whether previously diagnosed with COVID-19 or not, should take the same precautions to avoid SARS-CoV-2 infection,” they added.

To protect yourself, WHO recommends maintaining a physical distance of at least 1 meter from others, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, keeping rooms well ventilated and washing hands thoroughly and often.

The Lancet said the patient had provided written consent to publish the report, with ethical approval revoked by the University of Nevada, Reno Institutional Review Board.

Secondary coronavirus infections

It was speculated that a second case of coronavirus would be milder than the first, although it is unclear why the Nevada patient became more seriously ill the second time.

Reports of secondary coronavirus infections in Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Belgium have all claimed to be no more serious than the first.

One in Ecuador, however, mirrored the US case as more serious, but this case did not require hospital treatment.


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