A 25-year-old man from Nevada is the first person in the United States to contract COVID-19 twice. He is the fifth person in the world to get reinfected with the coronavirus. A case study published in the medical journal The Lancet said that the man's second infection was worse than the first one.
The patient tested positive for the virus in April and suffered from mild symptoms, including a cough and nausea. He recovered a few weeks later and tested negative on two separate occasions in May. On May 28, two days after his last negative test, the man saw his symptoms return. He checked himself into an urgent care facility after developing a high fever, headache, dizziness, cough, nausea, and diarrhea.
He ended up in the hospital and tested positive for COVID-19 on June 5. He has since recovered and has been released from the hospital.
Scientists said the genetic codes from each virus showed "significant differences," leading them to conclude that he was infected twice. The authors of the study noted that the case is concerning because it shows that not everybody becomes immune once they get sick.
"These findings suggest that the patient was infected by SARS-CoV-2 on two separate occasions by a genetically distinct virus. Thus, previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 might not guarantee total immunity in all cases," the authors of the study said.
They also stressed the importance of following social distancing guidelines and wearing masks, even if you have already recovered from COVID-19.
"All individuals, whether previously diagnosed with COVID-19 or not, should take identical precautions to avoid infection with SARS-CoV-2," they wrote.
One doctor said that reinfection appears to be extremely rare and pointed out that this does not mean "that protective immunity is impossible."
"It doesn't tell us that protective immunity is impossible," Dr. Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told CNBC. "It is worth remembering that this might be just one of a very small handful of reinfections, it might be very rare, or it might be one of the very first few we are going to see a lot more of given time."
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