Coronavirus Reinfection Possible? Israel Doctor Tests Covid-19 Positive Again, 3 Months After Recovery

Questions linger over how long immunity against novel Coronavirus lasts

In Israel, where authorities have reported over 49,300 cases, a doctor at Sheba Medical Center has been confirmed as infected with novel Coronavirus, three months after she recovered from the virus infection.

The doctor suffered from a fever, cough, and muscle pain—which are the basic symptoms of the Coronavirus infection—in April and tested positive for the virus. Later, in May and June, she tested negative and it was confirmed that she recovered from the disease. But earlier in the month of July, she came in contact with a COVID-19 positive patient, and soon after that she again tested positive for the virus.

Unusual Coronavirus Infection Cases

As per the reports, this is the second reinfection case in the Sheba Medical Center, as the healthcare authority at the center has claimed that it found another patient who visited the hospital with severe lung inflammation after the recovery from the virus.

Covid test
Coronavirus reinfection Pixabay

In May, a 45-year-old woman from Jisr e-Zarka, a town in Israel, tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 after being re-admitted to Hadera's Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, where she was initially admitted after developing symptoms like fever and chest pains.

In the U.S., a Massachusetts man, aged 82, who spent almost four weeks in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital after contracting the novel Coronavirus was once again struck down by the virus within just 10 days after recovering.

All these Coronavirus cases are the latest in a series of incidents of suspected reinfection that have raised questions concerning how long immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 lasts.

The Shield Against Coronavirus

Last week, the World Health Organization's (WHO) COVID-19 technical lead, Dr. Maria van Kerkhove had explained that scientists are trying to figure out how long the protection provided by antibodies will last, while some of the initial studies have claimed that the immunity may wane after a few months.

Recently, a U.S. based physician, Clay Ackerly revealed that he had seen one of his patients who tested positive again for the virus, three months after catching the COVID-19. As per the healthcare expert, while the first time the patient showcased minor symptoms like cough and sore throat, the second time the same person had severe symptoms, including high fever, shortness of breath, and dangerously low oxygen levels.

As per a report, Ackerly wrote, "Despite scientific hopes for either antibody-mediated or cellular immunity, the severity of my patient's second bout with COVID-19 suggests that such responses may not be as robust as we hope." He also added that if the patient is not, in fact, an exception but certainly proves the rule that "many people could catch COVID-19 more than once, and with unpredictable severity."

Coronavirus Patients
Representative Image Wikipedia

In one experiment, done on monkeys, macaques that tested positive for the virus, researchers noticed that they did not fall ill after being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 for the second time. They also noticed that the animals had "near-complete protection" from reinfection. But still, further studies are required to come to a conclusion about reinfection.

Popular Science reported that Luis Ostrosky, a professor of infectious diseases at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston said that the diagnostic tests for the Coronavirus check for the presence of RNA from the virus and people can shed this genetic material for a long time even if they are recovered.

Ostrosky said many of his patients have tested positive for the virus three months after catching it, but it is not clear whether the explanation for the new symptoms is a relapse of the disease, a second Coronavirus infection, or a completely different illness.

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