In a paper published
yesterday (25 August 2020), the researchers at the University of Hong Kong
identified the first reinfection case of SARS-CoV-2 virus, and proved the
reinfection with whole genome sequencing approaches.
The patient is a 33-year-old immunocompetent male who returned to Hong Kong from Spain via the United Kingdom . He was asymptomatic in his second episode of infection which was about 4.5 months after the first one . In order to distinguish the status of “reinfection” from the prolonged shedding of the virus, the research team led by Kwok-Yung Yuen at HKU performed whole genome analysis on the respiratory specimens from two episodes of infection from the patient --- the 24 nucleotide difference indicated the two SARS-CoV-2 strains belonged to distinct lineages, in tandem with other evidence from epidemiological, clinical and serological data .
This report implies the failure of herd immunity to eliminate SARS-CoV-2, while immunity offered by vaccines may not sustain against new infection . It is likely to expect the virus to be circulating in human populations, like common-cold coronaviruses .
1. To KK, Hung IF, Ip JD, et al. COVID-19 re-infection by a phylogenetically distinct SARS-coronavirus-2 strain confirmed by whole genome sequencing [published online ahead of print, 2020 Aug 25]. Clin Infect Dis. 2020;ciaa1275. doi:10.1093/cid/ciaa1275