Sweden Medical Center in Seattle. (KIRO 7)
Doctors say a patient in the Seattle area has been confirmed to have been refined by COVID-19, in only the third documented case of re-contact in the world. Researchers at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle are studying what supplementation might tell them about how long the immunity lasts, and how effective a vaccine is.
The only other recorded second infections were a 35-year-old man in Hong Kong, and a 25-year-old man in Reno, Nevada.
“We don’t know how many levels of immunity we need to protect,” Drs. Jason Goldman, who heads the COVID Research Team at Sweden Medical Center.
In the Seattle case, the patient was in his 60s living in a nursing facility, and was hospitalized after being infected for the first time.
After 140 days, the patient developed very mild symptoms after being infected a second time, and Goldman said the news was encouraging.
“Most reported cases are mild the second time,” he said. “So even though the immune system fails to prevent secondary infection, it seems to limit the severity a second time.”
Goldman says it appears that antibodies produced by your body with infection work most of the time, and can make secondary exposure easier.
“Most patients infected with COVID recover and are not re-infected, so that is the second definitive finding,” he added.
Goldman’s study could help the world better understand how long COVID-19 antibodies last. Each case of secondary infection occurs at least a quarter of a year after recovery from the first.
“Most cases have four or more months from the first infection to the second, so that could be a point of infection perhaps,” he said. “Our immunity (may) start to weaken then, but we don’t really know that yet.”
Goldman said there was little difference between coronavirus and one from Wuhan, China, in January, and future studies will help to figure out how our immune systems must respond to be safe.
Vaccines being tested today are based on the original COVID-19 virus from China. But the most widespread global circular strain is slightly different. The various strains are called “D6-14G” and may be more contagious than the original virus.
“We still have a lot to learn about this virus and the safety we need to protect ourselves from it,” he said.
Written by KIRO 7 TV reporter Gary Horcher.