A 25-year-old man from Nevada was infected with the coronavirus twice, with the second case becoming more dangerous than the first, scientists have confirmed.
According to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet on Monday, the man had no pre-existing conditions that would make him vulnerable to the novel virus.
The patient tested positive for the virus in April after having a cough and nausea. He recovered and tested negative in May.
Several week later, he sought medical help again after having fever, cough, and dizziness. The patient tested positive again and was hospitalized after his lungs could not get enough oxygen into his body.
It is the first confirmed reinfection with the novel virus in the United States and the fifth confirmed case worldwide.
The scientists compared the virus's genetic codes taken during each bout of symptoms to find out that they were too distinct to be caused by the same infection.
Dr. Mark Pandori from the University of Nevada commented that a previous infection does not necessarily protect against future infection. He confirmed that even people who have already recovered should stay alert, following safety guidelines, wearing masks, and keeping a social distance.
The researchers have not concluded why some people may contract the virus twice or why some are more predisposed to reinfection. In theory, the patient's immune system should make antibodies after the first infection, but it is not clear how long the immunity lasts.
According to Prof. Akiko Iwasaki from Yale University, a second positive case could happen for several reasons, including being exposed to higher levels of the virus. Also, the immune response could make the virus seem worse rather than better the second time.
Meanwhile, Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, said on Monday that the novel virus could live on banknotes, glass, and stainless steel for up to 28 days. For comparison, the flu virus lasts 17 days, researchers noted.
The study proved that at 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the virus was ''extremely robust'' on surfaces like a cell phone or other touch screens and survived for 28 days on plastic, glass, and steel. At 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the survival rate dropped to seven days to reach only 24 hours at 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Shane Riddel, the study's lead researcher, commented that the findings reinforce the importance of sanitizing where possible and wiping down surfaces.
Do you think that washing hands more often and keeping social distance would be enough to prevent infection?