Researchers in Hong Kong confirmed the first known case of coronavirus reinfection, but many doctors and public health officials say it isn't that surprising given what we know about waning immunity from other coronaviruses.
DARA KASS: You may have recently heard about a patient in Hong Kong who was re infected with the coronavirus and it was proven the patient had two separate infections. So what does this mean for people who have already recovered from the coronavirus? People like me, who had it in March, who are now worrying, am I at risk again? Like everything in science, we need to take it in context. The World Health Organization reminds us that this one case report is important, but it's not everything.
MARIA VAN KERKHOVE: So we have an example that was reported on Monday from Hong Kong of an individual who we believe is the first example of reinfection that is documented reinfection. So I want to reiterate-- this is one example out of 23.5 million cases so far.
DARA KASS: You may have heard of patients before this who were positive for the coronavirus, then they were negative, and then positive again, and you were curious, was that a reinfection as well? Well, the difference here is that the doctors were able to sequence the virus twice to say that this is actually two separate infections.
Probably one of the most important pieces to take away from this case study is what it means for a vaccine. This case study shows us that we may need to develop a vaccine that's given not just once, but twice to make sure that we boost your immune response to give you long term protection against infection or more importantly, serious infection of this coronavirus.
This patient in Hong Kong on reinfection was asymptomatic. That's important. We need to remember that it may mean that immunity is incomplete, but still better than having never been infected in the first place.
So the end of the day, what does this study mean for you? Well, we need people to understand is that this is not surprising to really anybody in the medical community and should not change at all how you act. We know people have recovered from viruses and get them again. Think about a common cold. We also know the coronavirus immunity is often short and not lifelong, and that a single infection was likely not going to result in immunity that was going to last a very long time.
But it should not change what you're going to do in the near future. You should continue to wear a mask, wash your hands, stay socially distanced from people that you don't know, and listen to trusted advisors like doctors and scientists about what to do next.