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Scientists say Nevada man contracted the coronavirus on 2 separate occasions — and the second time was far worse


First such case in the US

Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

Scientists say that a 25-year-old Nevada man has contracted COVID-19 twice, on two separate occasions.

What are the details?

According to a Monday report in infectious diseases journal the Lancet, researchers said that the unnamed 25-year-old man contracted coronavirus twice and became seriously ill following his second infection.

The man, a resident of Washoe County, reportedly had no known immunodeficient conditions, nor did he have any underlying problems. Despite those factors, the unnamed man — who has since recovered from both bouts — required hospital treatment following his second infection.

The man first tested positive on April 18, and his symptoms abated on April 27. He subsequently tested negative for coronavirus on two separate occasions on May 9 and May 26. He began exhibiting further symptoms on May 28, and on June 5, he tested positive for coronavirus a second time.

Researchers then sequenced RNA from both of the man's virus samples and concluded that he had been infected with two different strains of the virus.

According to CNBC, "Scientists said the patient caught the coronavirus on two separate occasions, rather than the original infection bouncing back after becoming dormant. This is because a comparison of the genetic codes showed 'significant differences' between each variant associated with each instance of infection."

The study's authors noted, "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. ... All individuals, whether previously diagnosed with COVID-19 or not, should take identical precautions to avoid infection with SARS-CoV-2."

The Hill reports that it is the first confirmed case of a U.S. patient becoming reinfected with COVID-19 and the fifth of its kind worldwide.

'It is possible to get reinfected'

Dr. Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told the outlet that the study means "it is possible to get reinfected."

"It doesn't tell us that protective immunity is impossible," Clarke added. "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."

Clarke also pointed out that the research's findings could possibly make generating immunity against COVID-19 "much more difficult."

At the time of this reporting, researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that 37,857,361 people around the world have been infected with coronavirus and at least 1,081,695 have died.

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