Likely COVID-19 reinfection reported in Hong Kong

This is interesting:

A 33-year-old man in Hong Kong may represent the first confirmed case of reinfection, researchers in Hong Kong said.

The man was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26, hospitalized, then recovered. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 again on August 15, and whole genome sequencing of viral isolates from the two episodes indicated they were from different clades, reported Kwok-Yung Yuen, MD, of the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues in a manuscript they said had been accepted for publication in Clinical Infectious Diseases , but not yet published.

This is another example of how the media do not report things well. We have suspected this may happen sometimes. One single case being reported, and at this stage only less than five months since March when it really started to peak in many countries, really doesnt tell us much about how often we are going to see this. Crucially this patient was apparently asymptomatic second time round though the media doesnt reflect this. It is very possible that any second infections will be very minor for the subject, although crucially for someone like me who has little immune system, the individual may still be able to spread the virus to those who have not been exposed. There is much we do not yet know. And media headlines which have sensationalised this are not helpful in my view.


How so? The article says exactly what you are saying. Or are you talking about other news outlets?

“My hope is that while reinfection has been documented, it is a rare or uncommon occurrence,” Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who was not involved in the research, told MedPage Today . “So far that seems to be the case, but we’re still only a few months into this pandemic.”

Matthew Spinelli, MD, of University of California San Francisco, said this was an important study, but unsurprising since people are often reinfected with seasonal coronaviruses responsible for common colds.

It did too note that it was a minor infection.

“We saw what we would’ve expected to see,” Spinelli, who was not involved with the research, told MedPage Today . “It’s good he had no symptoms the second time. … It shows some degree of immunity, but not enough to prevent asymptomatic infection.”

The article repeatedly emphasized that the results were expected, not shocking.

When asked about implications for COVID-19 vaccine development, Spinelli noted that no vaccine to a respiratory virus like this is expected to be 100% effective – much like the flu shot, which reduces infection incidence and illness severity but only to a degree.

“The fact that the second infection had much reduced severity is what we’d expect to see with a vaccine. Hopefully, a vaccine will induce more rigorous immunity,” he said.

Maybe the accompanying image was a bit sensationalizing, but I didn’t think the reporting was. " First Case of COVID-19 Reinfection Confirmed" is hardly “Oh, no, we’re all going to die!” And contrary to expectations the comment section is actually helpful, and helped contextualize the results even further. While it may be the case that reinfections are not serious health-wise, they may potentially be an issue with control of spread if there is enough viral shed with a second infection, which would be good to aware of. I have heard people say, “I don’t need to wear a mask, I’ve already had it.” Is that true? Do we even know?

Sorry for not making myself clear…yes it was other outlets I was referring to. There is a fine line between sensationalising and reading too much into a single case and reporting the science as it emerges. I have stopped looking at a lot of media, especially TV news! I do think that the HUGE take home message from this and some of the animal reinfection and vaccine work is that immunity may well protect the individual but might be even worse for people like me as it may mean that in a couple of months (if antibodies wear off after five or six months from March…) that a LOAD of people will be walking around asymptomatically shedding the virus as their immune systems think “ah yes we have seen this before…no need to panic we can deal with this now!” This could be a BIG problem for someone like me potentially. So yes masks MUST still be worn by people who have had it or even have been vaccinated at least until we find out how often it is possible not become assymptomatically infected with it whilst immune.

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That is a good point, and likely needs to be made more publicly, especially with the current burnout regarding Covid care. Some friends of mine who are convinced this is a plot to restrict our freedoms will also argue that the ongoing restrictions were not, therefore, just a short term, illness oriented ploy, but part of a master plot to take them away indefinitely. Being open about this may help fend off both burnout and conspiracy fears.

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