COVID-19: First Case of Confirmed Reinfection in Hong Kong

The man’s second SARS-CoV-2 infection was detected at the airport screening on his return to Hong Kong.

2 min read
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Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have confirmed the world’s first case of COVID-19 reinfection. A 33-year-old IT worker from Hong Kong who recovered from the virus and was discharged from a hospital in April has again been tested positive after returning from Spain earlier this month.

The man’s second SARS-CoV-2 infection was detected at the airport screening on his return to Hong Kong.

Researchers say that they used “genomic sequence analysis to prove that he had been infected by two different strains”. The information technology worker didn’t develop any symptoms from his second infection, which might indicate any “subsequent infections may be milder," reported Bloomberg.

Microbiologist and lead author of the study Kelvin Kai-Wang To said “our study proves that immunity for COVID infection is not lifelong, in fact, reinfection can occur quite quickly,”

World’s First Case of Reinfection

A statement released by the researchers at the Hong Kong University said that there have been cases of reinfection, however, this is the first time it has been proven after tests.

Researchers further stated “it’s commonly believed that COVID-19 patients have immunity against reinfection.”

“However, there is evidence that some patients have waning antibody level after a few months,” reported a Hong Kong-based news channel.

Head of translational and human immunology at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Corey Smith, in an emailed statement, said “It may be difficult to find COVID-19 survivors who have been reinfected with SARS-CoV-2 if they don't show symptoms,” reported Bloomberg.

Need to Closely Follow Up: ICMR Director

ICMR Director General Prof Balram Bhargava said, “We have read report on re-infection of one case in Hong Kong. It can depend on several factors. It could be related to the patient's immune status, whether the virus has mutated. We need to closely follow it up, but at the same time we don't need to be alarmed.”

Is it Still Infectious?

Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and chair of infectious diseases at Summa Health, said, “Protection from reinfection will vary between people, and may depend on the individual patient, their immune system, whether the patient developed symptoms to the first infection, and the nature of the second virus to which they have been exposed.”

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 23 million cases of coronavirus have been reported globally and about 800,000 people have lost their lives.

(With inputs from Indian Express and Bloomberg)

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