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Can you catch COVID-19 twice? The answer is a definite maybe

A new Lancet study recounts the case of a 25-year-old Nevada man who had symptoms of COVID-19 from two genetically distinct viruses.

Can you catch COVID-19 twice? The answer is a definite maybe
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COVID-19 is still raging. A second wave of the pandemic is sweeping through. And now, a new problem: reinfection.

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That word means exactly what you think—and fear.

A new study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, describes a Nevada man who caught COVID twice. The 25-year-old Washoe County resident had symptoms in April and again in June, with two negative tests in May.

“Genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 showed genetically significant differences between each variant associated with each instance of infection. The second infection was symptomatically more severe than the first,” the researchers wrote.

Evolution can’t explain the difference, so that suggests a genetically distinct virus—and no guarantee of immunity. People who previously were sickened by COVID-19, therefore, need to take the same precautions as the general public to prevent contracting the virus.

Other reinfections have been chronicled in Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Belgium, and Ecuador, according to the study.

The authors of the study make clear from the very first sentence that protective immunity and the chance of reinfection are mysteries to scientists.

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