An 82-year-old Massachusetts man who spent almost four weeks in the intensive care unit after contracting the novel Coronavirus was once again struck down by the virus within just 10 days after recovering.

The unnamed man went to an emergency department at Massachusetts General Hospital after he developed a high fever and tested positive for COVID-19. His health condition rapidly worsened while he was in the hospital. Doctors managed to save his life after he was put under the support of a ventilator, but he felt sick again less than a fortnight later, despite testing negative for COVID-19 twice before being discharged from the hospital.

This is one of many similar cases that raised concerns over the type of immunity people build up against SARS-CoV-2. The incidents also triggered questions about how long the body takes to eliminate the virus completely.

Unusual Coronavirus Cases

Massachusetts General Hospital
Coronavirus case in Massachusetts General Hospital Wikimedia commons

Experts could not reveal yet whether people can catch the novel Coronavirus twice and they are increasingly beginning to believe that protection may only be short-lived. As per the experts, other Coronaviruses which cause the common cold, do not produce permanent immunity against the disease, and people can catch them multiple times, the same thing may be happening in terms of COVID-19.

Several reports from all around the world showed that there are people who contracted the virus more than once but there is very little proof for reinfection. As per a report published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the 82-year-old man already had serious health conditions before he caught Coronavirus.

The report revealed the man was suffering from Parkinson's, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and high blood pressure. His age and the underlying health condition put him in the highest possible risk category of dying from novel Coronavirus.

His condition was so serious that the man had to spend 39 days inside the hospital facility before getting discharged. After two negative COVID-19 tests he was allowed to leave the ward and was breathing on his own but in just 10 days, the man reappeared in the emergency department, with fever and breathing difficulties.

Coronavirus
Coronavirus patient Xinhua/IANS

This time his family asked the doctors not to put him under a ventilator and signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) if his heart stopped. In the ITU, his kidney stopped working properly but doctors managed to save his life. After testing negative for the virus a further two times, he was discharged from the hospital after 15 days.

Dr. Nicole Duggan, one of the medics who cured the man said many viruses demonstrate the prolonged presence of genetic material in a host even after clearance of the live virus and symptomatic resolution. Thus, the detection of genetic material by only swab test does not necessarily correspond with the active infection or infectivity, he added.

In addition, Duggan also stated, "Observational data suggest SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding may last 20-22 days after symptom onset on average with some outlying cases exhibiting shedding as long as 44 days."

However, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 203 new confirmed Coronavirus cases and 10 more deaths in the state on Tuesday, July 14. As per the health officials, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state is 105,986, while the death toll has surpassed the 8,100 mark.