Hong Kong Man reinfected with COVID-19

Four and a half months ago, a 33 year old Hong Kong man was treated and released from the hospital after contracting the coronavirus. It now appears that he has actually been reinfected with the virus. He tested positive at a Hong Kong airport after vacationing in Spain on August 15. There have been a few times in the past where reinfection cases were reported, but were proven false. This is the first ever proven case of actual reinfection of COVID-19. 

                            People wearing masks on a Hong Kong Subway (Photo provided by Dale De La Rey/AFP via Getty Images)

When scientists sequenced the two infections they didn’t match, showing that the first wasn’t affiliated with the second. During the second infection, the man stayed asymptomatic. This leads scientists to believe that when a patient gets reinfected, that it won’t be as bad as the first due to some residual immunity.

Now why is this case important you might be asking yourself? Well, this raises suspicion of how well our immune system can protect us after we’ve already been infected. Usually, when we recover from a virus, our immune system remembers it and if there would be another reinfection, the immune system would know what to do. This is what is called immune protection (or immunity), but if a person can get reinfected how exactly safe are we?

This also suggests that people might have to take a yearly vaccination, like for the flu. It also helps scientists distinguish how long vaccines will be effective for and how often we need booster shots. 

However, not all scientists think that this case should be taken that seriously. Some say that the reinfections will probably be super rare and not that big of a deal. In fact, even the World Health Organization (WHO) says that we shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions because of one case.
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