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A man, 33, tested positive for COVID-19 only four months after he recovered the first time – settling alarm bells ringing across the globe. The man, who has no underlying health conditions, was infected a second time by a different strain of the virus. People who recover from the virus do develop antibodies, providing immunity.
However immunity could be very short lived and antibodies could disappear over time.
Doctors have said these findings show re-infection can occur only a few months after recovery – dashing hopes the disease could be wiped out as a result of herd immunity.
Following the case, a press release from the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong said: “The team showed the genome sequence of the virus strain in the first episode of Covid-19 infection is clearly different from the genome sequence of the virus strain found during the second episode of infection.
“This case illustrates that re-infection can occur after just a few months of recovery from the first infection.
“Our findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may persist in the global human population as it is the case for other common-cold associated human coronaviruses.”
The man spent two weeks in hospital the first time and then tested positive a second time, with no symptoms, four months later.
7.46am update: Re-infection of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the Netherlands
Virologist Marion Koopmans said: “SARS-CoV-2 infections all have a different fingerprint, a genetic code.
“People can carry something with them for a long time after an infection and occasionally secrete a little RNA.
“Respiratory infections can strike twice, or more often. We know that you are not protected for life if you have had the infection and that is what we expect with Covid.”
Mr Koopmans said there was a clear immune response after an infection, but the question is how long it will last.
7.23am update: Southwark and Hackney have most COVID-19 cases in London
The infection rate has increased in 19 London boroughs
Hackney recorded the highest rate, with 56 new cases at a rate of 19.3 per 100,000.
Second highest is Southwark with 50 new cases and a rate of 15.7.
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