Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 reinfection in a coronavirus disease 2019 recovered young adult: a case report.J Med Case Rep. 2021 Jul 16; 15(1):382.JM
Coronavirus disease 2019 has been a public health threat and a worldwide emergency for more than a year. Unfortunately, many questions concerning the pathophysiology, management, and long-term side effects remain unanswered, and novel aspects of the disease keep on emerging. Of concern to healthcare providers are the recent reported cases of reinfection. Serum coronavirus disease 2019 antibodies have been detected within a few days after onset of the disease. However, it remains unclear whether this immune response is universal, or whether it can lead to latent immunity.
A previously healthy 27-year-old white man presented with fever, chills, back pain, and other constitutional symptoms, 2 days after being exposed to coronavirus disease 2019 positive patients. His severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 polymerase chain reaction was positive, and his symptoms resolved over the next 2 weeks. One month after a confirmatory negative severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 polymerase chain reaction, he was found to be ineligible for plasma donation as his anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 serology was negative. The patient redeveloped symptoms similar to his first infection 3 weeks after the negative serology test. He and his wife both tested positive via polymerase chain reaction. Their symptoms resolved over the next few days, and they had a negative polymerase chain reaction test 10 days after the positive polymerase chain reaction.
While studies showed that anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 immunoglobulins start to develop early after infection, our healthy young patient's immune system failed to mount latent immunity against the virus. This left him, especially amid widespread social and medical misconceptions, vulnerable to reinfection by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Our case disputes the timelines for immune response that were set and supported by research studies. Our case also raises questions regarding prioritizing vaccinating other individuals over those with prior infection.