When the results came back, he was positive even though he didn’t have symptoms. Experts say that he got the viral strain which was circulating in Europe, probably in July or August, and that it was different from his initial infection.
With researchers saying that it is the world’s first documented case of reinfection, it’s safer to say that getting the coronavirus twice is possible.
Why is Reinfection Possible?
Reinfection happens because despite recovering from the initial infection, our bodies do not change extensively.
To put it simply, after recovery from the infection, we still have the same types of cells, such as respiratory cells that the virus can attach to. Just because patients are cured doesn’t mean that the recovered cells will prevent future infections.
Shouldn’t Patients Who Recover Gain Immunity?
Despite the possibility of reinfection, studies truly indicate that patients who recover from COVID-19 gain some kind of immunity against the virus.
This immunity is due to the development of antibodies and memory cells.
- Antibodies are special types of proteins that our immune system uses to neutralize or destroy pathogens, like the COVID-19 virus.
- On the other hand, a memory cell is an immune cell that has been exposed to a specific pathogen. After exposure, the memory cell will replicate itself and remain in our system to look for the same virus.
If reinfection happens, the memory cells will “remember” the pathogen and encourage faster production of antibodies against the infection.
Because of this efficient system, the infection will be restrained before the patient suffers too much or even develops symptoms. This is the “immunity” we’re talking about.