Doctors Warn: Two Completely Separate Bouts of COVID-19 Infection Possible
It may be possible to have two completely separate bouts of COVID-19, doctors have warned in the journal BMJ Case Reports after treating a man whose infections were separated by 4 months of no symptoms and serial negative tests for the virus.
Waning immunity might heighten the risk of reinfection, but severe infection first time around may be followed by milder symptoms second time around, they suggest.
It’s not unknown for people to become reinfected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 infection, but very few cases have been reported. And it’s not yet clear if this actually represents persistent viral shedding rather than genuine reinfection.
In a bid to shed some light on this, the authors report a case of a man in his 40s who was admitted to hospital with mild COVID-19 infection 4 months after an initial bout of severe disease in April 2020.
The man had well-controlled type 2 diabetes, an underactive thyroid gland, and he was obese — known risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection.
First time around, he was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties and a high-pitched wheeze caused by disrupted airflow, known as stridor.
He developed respiratory failure, and required mechanical ventilation and blood thinners as well as various other drugs used to treat COVID-19.
He was in hospital for 2 months and developed serious complications, including a hospital acquired infection (MRSA), gastrointestinal bleeding, ventilator-associated pneumonia and kidney failure. When he stabilized, he was subsequently discharged to an acute care facility for rehabilitation.
Second time around in August 2020, he tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, after four interval negative tests during the preceding three months. He stayed in hospital for just 1 day.
Two weeks later he was admitted to hospital with shortness of breath; he told doctors that he had had intermittent episodes of choking, shortness of breath, and stridor. This third hospital stay lasted a week.
Once again, he tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, insisting that he had had very little exposure to other people, except for relatives and his immediate family who had no symptoms and had not been ill recently.