Hong Kong scientists announced on Monday (24) the first case of reinfection with Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19. He is an apparently healthy young man, who after 4 and a half months of the first infection, was infected again by the virus.
The discovery will be published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, published by the University of Oxford, UK. In that study, the researchers identified that the patient, a 33-year-old man, had only mild symptoms the first time and no symptoms at all the second time. According to the team, the virus of the second infection belonged to a different strain of the first.
“Our results prove that the second infection is caused by a new virus, which he recently acquired, rather than a prolonged viral spread,” said clinical microbiologist Kelvin Kai-Wang To of the University of Hong Kong.
Covid-19 may be endemic
Researcher Ester Sabino, from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (USP), who was part of the team that sequenced the covid-19 genome in Brazil, explained to G1 that a reinfection occurred, not a mutation of the virus that was already in the patient’s body.
“First, it is unlikely that herd immunity can eliminate Sars-CoV-2, although it is possible that subsequent infections are milder than the first, as in this patient,” said the researcher.
As a result, this disease may become endemic and be found regularly in a given area or population. This factor creates many obstacles in the creation of an effective vaccine in the long term, since the virus has many variations and the body may have difficulties in recognizing it.
The technical leader of the World Health Organization (WHO), Maria van Kerkhove, recognizes the possibility of reinfections. In her statement, she explained that studies indicate that everyone infected with Sars-CoV-2 develops some level of immunity. However, it is not yet known the level of this immunity or how long it lasts.