Man, 33, 're-infected with coronavirus' four months after beating disease

A man who recovered from coronavirus in April has tested positive again after returning from Spain via the UK four and a half months later, new research claims.

The 33-year-old male was cleared of the virus and discharged earlier this year before taking a trip to Europe.

He had appeared to be previously healthy, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said, but was found to have contracted a different coronavirus strain.

Though some scientists have disputed the significance of the findings.

Researchers at the university published their report in the international medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases and they said it marks the world’s first documented instance of re-infection.

The report stated: “We report the first case of reinfection of Covid-19.

“Epidemiological, clinical, serological and genomic analyses confirmed that the patient had reinfection instead of persistent viral shedding from first infection.”

Dr Kai-Wang To, one of the leading authors of the paper, said researchers will need to wait to see how “effective vaccines are” after they said they found someone could be infected again.

Dr To said: “The finding does not mean taking vaccines will be useless.

“Immunity induced by vaccination can be different from those induced by natural infection, we will need to wait for the results of the vaccine trials to see if how effective vaccines are.”

Man, 33, 're-infected with coronavirus' four months after beating disease

World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said people should not jump to conclusions in response to the research.

In mainland China, there have been other claimed instances where people have been discharged from hospital and tested positive again.

Those cases differ to the Hong Kong case as it was not clear whether the individuals had contracted the virus after full recovery.

Jeffrey Barrett, an expert and consultant with the Covid-19 Genome Project at Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute, said it was very hard to make any strong inference from a single observation.

“Given the number of global infections to date, seeing one case of re-infection is not that surprising even if it is a very rare occurrence,” he said.