Seattle Patient Has Second COVID Infection

Case is only the third confirmed in the world
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2020 2:40 PM CDT
Seattle Researchers Study Effects of Patient's Reinfection
Health care workers gather outside the Seattle Medical Center in Seattle as first responders honor them in April.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

For only the third time worldwide, a COVID-19 survivor has come down with a second infection of the coronavirus. The person, who is in their 60s, was hospitalized after the first infection, then was living in a nursing facility, KIRO reports. More than four months later, the patient developed mild symptoms. "Most of the reported cases are more mild the second time around," said Dr. Jason Goldman, head of the COVID Research Team at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. "So even if the immune system has failed to prevent a second infection, it does seem to be limiting the severity the second time around." The other documented cases of a second COVID-19 infection involved a 35-year-old man in Hong Kong and a 25-year-old man in Reno.

A team at the medical center is trying to understand what the case means concerning immunity and vaccines. "We don’t know how much immunity levels we need to be protected," Goldman said, per KIRO. If this coronavirus acts the way others do, per Scientific American, reinfections will become more common. The antibodies developed in the body to fight the first infection appear to make the second infection less severe, Goldman said. "Most cases had four or more months from the first infection to the second, so that may be an inflection point perhaps," he said. "Our immunity (may) start to wane then, but we really don’t know that yet." The vaccines in the works now are designed to fight the original virus, but there's a different strain infecting people now. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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