Back in October 2020, the news about a man catching COVID-19 for the second time broke headlines; showcasing what seemed like a rare anomaly of this pandemic. However, months later, research shows signs that cases of reinfection are more common than we think.
For Kaitlyn Romoser, she tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020. After a negative resulted test and six months of full recovery, Romoser was infected with the virus once again, the second infection being much more severe. For scientists, this poses as a question of whether Romoser’s case is a reemergence of the first case or a new reinfection.
To test such hypothesis, scientists need to proceed with a genetic sequencing test, with both samples of Romoser’s infections. However, Romoser’s case was disregarded and no data was collected as a result, leaving Romoser to struggle with her second fight alone. This is a result of the United States holding 47th place amongst all countries for genetic testing. However with the United States leading the infection case counts by a indisputably large margin, the time for advancements in genetic testing has never been so evident.
As of February 2021, experts have reported approximately 50 global cases of reinfection. Compared to the world population, this number may seem insignificant; however, health officials also reported that U.S. states have not been tracking or reporting cases of reinfection, questioning the integrity of data and the so-called immunity of the virus.
Kaiser Health News, KHN, tasked officials to each of the fifty states to supervise the testing reports for data. KHN reported that of 24 responses, less than half shared data on potential and/or confirmed reinfection cases. Experts report that the surveillance of data has shown the grim reality of more reinfection cases than anticipated.
Health officials in the state of Washington are probing nearly 700 cases of reinfection with genetic testing. Officials from Colorado have reported that 0.1% of all cases may be of reinfection cases, resulting in over 400 potential cases. Minnesota has stated there may nearly be 150 cases. Though suspicions arises, experts are left with no sense of confirmation as they lack genetic material testing and appropriate materials to do so.
A year of being taunted by the novel coronavirus has not made it show any signs of mercy, even on those who have tested positive already.