Coronavirus: Hong Kong man contracts Covid-19 for second time, confirms that reinfection is possible

  • Researchers from the University of Hong Kong said a 33-year-old was reinfected with the virus four and a half months after he got it the first time
  • Findings show that ‘herd immunity’ is unlikely to eliminate the pandemic
Susan Ramsay |

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A Hong Kong man was confirmed to have contracted Covid-19 for the second time. (Photo: EPA-EFE)

Yes! You can get it again! A 33-year-old man from Hong Kong has confirmed our worst fears – that just because you’ve had the virus, doesn’t mean you won’t get it again.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) said they had confirmed the world’s first case of Covid-19 reinfection after a man who had had the virus got sick with it again four and a half months later.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, from HKU, said the finding was important because it means that herd immunity is unlikely to eliminate the pandemic. Herd immunity is when enough people have had the virus, which prevents it from spreading in the community.

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There were reports from other countries that reinfection was happening, but Hong Kong is the first place in the world to confirm it through strict testing. On Monday, one person each in Belgium and the Netherlands were confirmed reinfected. This also shows that a vaccine won’t cover people for life.

A teensy bit of possibly good news is that the man’s condition was not as bad as before, and scientists think this might be the case for most people.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has urged medical experts and opposition activists to stop playing politics with Covid-19 testing. She says the free, voluntary programme, which starts on Tuesday, will help Hong Kong’s economy get back on track. It aims to identify the silent carriers.

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More than 100 booths are to be set up across the city’s 18 districts, with around 3,000 medical professionals helping to carry out the tests.

Opposition lawmakers and activists have suggested that the government is only doing the testing to please mainland officials, who have been eager to help Hong Kong beat the third wave of infections. Some scientists have said they will not take the tests.

Hong Kong’s health authorities recorded around 20 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.