A doctor has reportedly been diagnosed with coronavirus twice, three months apart and after testing negative in between – raising questions about immunity from the killer bug.
The unnamed Israeli medic had been working at Sheba Medical Center in the city of Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, when she is said to have tested positive in April, before recovering.
She was then swabbed twice in May and June, testing negative, before seemingly contracting the disease again after treating a positive patient this month, reports The Times of Israel.
There is much debate surrounding the possibility of someone catching the bug more than once, with some experts hypothesising parts of the virus simply remain in the body after a patient appears to have recovered.
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As yet, there is no scientific proof of anyone re-contracting Covid-19.
However, there is some level of agreement among scientists that those who have had the bug will develop some level of immunity to it, at least on a short-term scale.
Professor Gabriel Izbicki, from Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, told the Times of Israel: “More than half the patients, weeks after testing negative, are still symptomatic.”
A scientific paper published in the US and entitled ‘A case report of possible novel coronavirus 2019 describes an 82-year-old man who was hospitalised with the virus twice.
Despite being put on a ventilator during a long stay at Massachusetts General Hospital before testing negative multiple times, the unnamed man returned again two weeks later and was again admitted to ICU with the virus.
His doctors suggest he never actually recovered fully and tests likely weren’t sensitive enough, though other medics debated in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine whether it was possible he contracted the disease twice.
Dr Nicole Duggan said “viral shedding” could last on average up to 22 days but there appear to be cases where this lasts double that – with testing not necessarily correlating “with the active infection”.
Another patient, a female aged 71, is said to have continued to test positive for five weeks after she became asymptomatic.
In one study by the University of Amsterdam, researchers suggested this coronavirus may act similarly to those that cause common colds with a very short duration of protective immunity.