Researchers from Hong Kong have reported a case of COVID-19 reinfection in a 33-year-old man. The patient first contracted the virus in March and seems to have been reinfected while travelling in Europe in August. The virus from the patient’s two infections were sequenced by a team at the University of Hong Kong and were not found to match, suggesting the second infection was not tied to the first.
Other anecdotal reports of COVID-19 reinfection have sprung up globally but have been largely attributed to testing malfunctions. This new case, which occurred 4 1/2 months after the first infection, raises questions about the length and durability of immunity from the coronavirus.
Experts caution that this patient’s case could be an outlier, urging more research on COVID-19 recovery to help reach definitive conclusions about coronavirus immunity.
“There’s been more than 24 million cases reported to date. … We need to look at something like this at a population level,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, an epidemiologist and coronavirus expert at the World Health Organization.