One of the biggest questions that has yet to be answered by researchers 8 months into the pandemic involves how long immunity to COVID-19 lasts. While it has been established that there is a period of immunity after an individual recovers from the highly infectious and potentially deadly virus, there have been no confirmed cases of reinfection—until now. A new report out of Hong Kong identifies the first case of an individual becoming infected with coronavirus twice. Read on—and to keep yourself and others safe during this pandemic, don't miss this essential list of the Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
The 'Young and Healthy' Patient Was Reinfected
According to Hong Kong researchers, who have identified a patient who tested positive for the virus twice over an extended period of time, their new findings support that immunity to the virus could only last a few months.
"An apparently young and healthy patient had a second case of Covid-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode," University of Hong Kong researchers said Monday in a statement obtained by the New York Times.
"Our findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may persist in humans," Kwok-Yung Yuen and colleagues said Monday in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, per The Japan Times. They explained that their findings are similar to the coronaviruses that cause the common cold, suggesting SARS-CoV-2 may continue to circulate "even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection or via vaccination."
It was Confirmed with Testing
This isn't the first presumed case of reinfection, but the only one that has been confirmed with testing. On August 16, the CDC released a statement that there were "no confirmed reports to date of a person being reinfected with COVID-19 within 3 months of initial infection."
However, according to the Hong Kong researchers, this is the exception. The patient, a 33-year-old information technology worker, was first infected with the virus in April. His second bout was detected via an airport screening after returning to Hong Kong from Europe over the summer. By sequencing the virus from both rounds of infection, they found standout differences in the two sets of the virus, coming to the conclusion that the individual was infected twice. Researchers point out that he didn't develop any symptoms from his second infection, which might indicate any "subsequent infections may be milder."
As for yourself, to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, try not to catch it in the first place and don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.