First registered case of COVID -19 reinfection

33 old technocrat got re infected with COVID19. He initially got infected with COVID19 in March 2020 . He got re-infected while traveling in Europe. This infection was detected in an airport screening on his return to Hong Kong from Spain in August 2020.

This case has raised concerns in several medical quarters, as it was considered that once a person is recovered from covid that person may not get re-infected or at least may not get re-infected in such as short duration. However, in media there were reports or doubts raised about other instances of re-infection, but nothing was conclusive. What is even more worrying is the fact that as this individual was asymptomatic. This may mean that if someone gets re-infected that individual may not have symptoms. Thus, becoming a superspreader. However, Experts have suggested that there’s nothing to worry as of now as it is just one case. Hence reaching on such conclusions with one test case is not advisable, Some experts have also suggested that in this case immune system of the body has responded exactly as it should respond, but this discovery is a concern for experts from the point of view of research.

Why is this case different from the unconfirmed news reports about the reinfection?

In earlier reports of reinfection it was not clear if the person has got re-infected or it was same virus showing in tests or the test itself was not accurate etc. It was also stated by the experts that people can have covid for a few months as well. People can also spread virus even after recovering from it. However, in this case, University of Hong Kong sequenced the virus from patients both infections. Both infection are found to be different, conforming that person got re-infected twice and it’s not a strain from earlier virus. Sequencing a virus means: “To figure out evolution of virus which in simple words mean reconstructing a virus transmission trees to identify the origin of transmission”.

This development has again increased the concerns about the fact: That for how long a person can remain immune to the disease (COVID19) after getting infected. As in this case, that person’s immune system was not strong enough to stop the virus from infecting him again. Now, this case is also an addition to the ongoing research in this matter. Till now, what is known is that once someone is infected antibodies and T cells get generated.

Antibody also known as immunoglobulin is a Y-shaped protein. There are several classes of Anti bodies but in the context of COVID -19 two main antibody classes are: –
-IgG – As soon as IgG gets generated that means body has recovered from virus.

-IgM – As soon as virus enter the body immune systems first response is IgM.

Again, in very easy language: –

Stops the virus from entering the cell.

T Cell: –
If virus enter the cells T cell destroys the cell itself.

Now this development has raised some question which also need to be included in on going research: –

• Will everyone get re-infected and all re-infected patients will remain asymptomatic..??
• What will be severity of the disease on re-infection..??

So, what can be concluded after this new development: –

  1. As the person got infected the second time. Antibodies got generated quickly as now body is aware of the virus, this helped in disease not getting too worse or fatal.
  2. Those who got infected with the virus may also need to go for vaccination as and when vaccine is available.
  3. This also mean people even after recovering need to adhere to all the guideline provided by the local authorities.
  4. Those who may get re-infected may largely remain asymptomatic. Hence, they can become super spreaders.
  5. Herd immunity through natural infections may not be a good idea as people may get re-infected also and they may again spread the virus. Which is against the concept of herd immunity.
  6. Proper vaccination program is the only way forward.
  7. This also mean that COVID 19 like many other viruses may remain among us throughout the year circulating in the population.