Hong Kong reports world’s first case of COVID-19 reinfection

The first proven case of COVID-19 reinfection has come to light from Hong Kong. A 33-year-old techie, who had contracted the infection in late March and subsequently cured, contracted the novel coronavirus again four and a half months later while travelling to Europe. He recently returned from Spain and tested COVID-19 positive.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong sequenced the virus from the patient’s two infections. They concluded that the virus sequence did not match indicating the second infection was not linked to the first. As per researchers, there was a difference of 24 nucleotides, or the “letters” that make up the virus” RNA, between the two infections.

“Many believe that recovered COVID-19 patients have immunity against re-infection because most developed a serum neutralising antibody response. However, there is evidence that some patients have waning antibody level after a few months,” Hong Kong University researchers said.

“Our findings suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 may persist in the global human population as is the case for other common cold-associated human coronaviruses, even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection,” they added.

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In keeping with their inference, researchers said patients who recovered from COVID-19  should also wear masks and maintain social distancing.

“Our study proves that immunity for COVID-19 infection is not life long – in fact reinfection can occur quite quickly,” said Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a microbiologist at Hong Kong University’s Faculty of Medicine in a statement.

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