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Initial case of coronavirus reinfection leaves major issues unanswered


Initial case of coronavirus reinfection leaves major issues unanswered

Health | Analysis 25 August 2020 By Jessica Hamzelou Commuters wearing face coverings in Hong KongLam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesA healthy 33-year-old man is the first person confirmed to have caught the coronavirus twice, according to unpublished research from the University of Hong Kong. As details of the case emerge, researchers say there is still much we…

Initial case of coronavirus reinfection leaves major issues unanswered

Health and fitness

| Evaluation

25 August 2020

By Jessica Hamzelou

Commuters in Hong Kong

Commuters donning face coverings in Hong Kong

Lam Yik/Bloomberg by means of Getty Visuals

A healthful 33-calendar year-aged man is the very first particular person confirmed to have caught the coronavirus 2 times, according to unpublished study from the College of Hong Kong. As information of the case emerge, scientists say there is however a lot we never know.

“There have been anecdotal reviews of people today getting reinfected,” suggests Charlotte Houldcroft at the University of Cambridge, who wasn’t associated in the function. “But this is the initially time that there is very good immunological knowledge on the specific.”

According to a press release and webpages of an as-however unpublished scientific paper that have circulated on social media, the guy 1st turned unwell in Hong Kong in March. His signs or symptoms were delicate and incorporated a fever, sore throat and cough. A take a look at verified that he had covid-19 on 26 March.


In August, the guy travelled from Spain to Hong Kong via the United kingdom. On arrival in Hong Kong on 15 August, he once more analyzed good for the coronavirus, regardless of not acquiring any symptoms.

On both situations, viral samples taken from the male have been sequenced to research the virus’s genome. A comparison of the two samples revealed that they appear to be from various lineages – despite the fact that both of those are derived from a modern typical ancestor, they have various genetic dissimilarities.

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“We could have anticipated this, given what we know about the way immunity wanes,” states Stephen Griffin at the College of Leeds, United kingdom. The do the job comes from a trustworthy investigate group, and the genetic variances and time lag concerning the two virus bacterial infections suggest they definitely were separate, he claims. “I’d be shocked if this was an mistake, but you just cannot be completely selected right until the details has been appropriately scrutinised.”

Researchers really don’t however know how common reinfection may possibly be – if immunity lasts for months, we would only anticipate to see reinfection conditions some time soon after the start out of the pandemic. It is also unclear no matter if the man or any individuals who become reinfected are infectious to others. “If individuals can be infected again, but they have no signs and they never infect anyone else, that doesn’t genuinely matter,” states Houldcroft.

The results fortify warnings that people who have been contaminated aren’t always immune to the coronavirus, claims Griffin. “Just mainly because you’ve had it once, which is however a somewhat little fraction of the inhabitants, you could theoretically get it once again.”

The two lineages of the virus wouldn’t be regarded different strains, says Houldcroft. When the two forms of the virus have genetic variations, it is not obvious if they differ in the way they behave or how they influence persons. “We really do not know regardless of whether [the differences] are important for how the body recognises them immunologically or how the body combats them,” she says. Additional than 100 lineages of the coronavirus have been identified so far, but we really do not however know if extra than a single strain exists.

This situation suggests that even individuals who have recovered from a coronavirus an infection should be deemed for vaccination, if and when a vaccine will become accessible, stated Kelvin Kai-Wang To at the College of Hong Kong and his colleagues, who executed the research, in a press launch. The team associates mentioned that people need to also go on to stick to advice on limiting the spread of the virus, these kinds of as mask-carrying and social distancing.

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