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COVID-19 Reinfection: First Case Of Reinfection (India) Reported, Govt. Orders Clinical Study

This week, India reported the first case of Covid-19 reinfection. A 27-year-old woman who had first tested positive in July and then discharged after a full recovery from a mild form of the coronavirus infection is the first confirmed case of Covid-19 reinfection in the country. The woman from Bengaluru has tested positive again nearly a month after she was treated.

On Monday, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) said four cases of Covid-19 reinfection were reported between August and September, nearly four months after they tested positive for the first time.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Karnataka continues to spike, with reports suggesting that the state is set to cross the 4 lakh mark in the next 24 hours [1]. The Karnataka government on Monday ordered a clinical study on reinfection cases, directing the officials to submit a report by the end of this week.

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What Caused The COVID-19 Reinfection?

In late August, researchers in Hong Kong had reported the first confirmed case of Covid-19 reinfection [2]. The man was first infected by SARS-CoV-2 in late March and then, four and a half months later contracted the virus. In this case of reinfection, further studies revealed that the virus from the patient's two infections did not match, indicating the second infection was not tied to the first [3].

This had raised questions about individuals developing Covid-19 immunity, where some studies pointed out that the antibodies produced against the coronavirus in people who had been infected declined significantly within two to three months after infection - which was examined by the researchers from King's College London, who claimed that an individual's immunity to Covid-19 (Covid-19 immunity) might be lost in months [4][5].

In the Bangalore case of Covid-19 reinfection, the doctors stated that "Normally, in case of infection, the COVID Immunoglobulin G antibody is tested positive after 2-3 weeks of infection, however in this patient, the antibody has been tested negative, which means she did not develop immunity after infection" [6].

The doctor's view, therefore, suggests that with the antibodies peaking at about 20 to 30 days after symptom onset and then declining prevents individuals from gaining natural immunity to the coronavirus for more than three months.

Some doctors believe that some Covid-19 patients relapse because the coronavirus lays dormant in their bodies and reemerges, an occurrence that been seen with some viruses that often result in lifetime immunity, such as chickenpox.

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What Does This Mean For COVID-19 Immunity?

According to previous reports and findings, potent antibodies have been found in people who recovered from Covid-19. That is when a person gets infected by any virus. The body generates antibodies against the pathogen, which allows the immune system to document the pathogen and the next time the person is exposed to the same pathogen, the immune system will quickly eliminate it, developing a Covid-19 immunity or immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus [8][9].

But with the recent findings, researchers assert that recovering from the coronavirus infection is not enough to develop an immunity against the virus and Covid-19 immunity will sustain in an individual for only three months, or in some cases, even less. This, in turn, raises a lot of questions about the efficiency of vaccines and the possible control and management of the coronavirus pandemic [10].

The researchers added, "What we are learning about infection is that people do develop an immune response, and what is not completely clear yet is how strong that immune response is and for how long that immune response lasts" [11].

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What You Need To Know About COVID-19 Reinfection

The Bangalore Covid-19 reinfection case has triggered the need for further extensive studies. After examining the numerous reports and studies, here are the relevant points you need to know about the Covid-19 reinfection.

  • The Covid-19 antibodies seem to decline much more rapidly in individuals that were asymptomatic or had mild forms of the disease [12].
  • People may gain natural immunity to the coronavirus for only a few months.
  • The secondary cases of the coronavirus will generally be milder than the first.
  • Most cases may not show any symptoms in the second infection.
  • None of the patients who re-tested positive for the coronavirus transmitted the pathogen to others [13].
  • Some people may be able to produce a better, faster response to the second infection.
  • People may need to receive multiple vaccinations against the virus throughout the year to control the coronavirus' spread [14].
  • Researchers assert that people who have recovered from Covid-19 should also be vaccinated [15].
  • People who have recovered from Covid-19 should continue following precautions like wearing a mask and physical distancing.
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On A Final Note…

Although cases of reinfection are being reported around the world, doctors ensure that there is no need to panic. Still, the incident should be dealt with carefully, taking the necessary precautions. In the absence of an effective vaccine, the preventive measures of social distancing, sanitising and using a mask should be considered as the primary weapons against Covid-19 reinfection.

Stressed During Lockdown?

Bangalore has been included in the next round of vaccine trials, set to start by September second week.