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First US patient infected with COVID-19 twice, bringing immunity into question

There have been at least five confirmed cases of patients testing positive for COVID-19 twice across the world.

NEW ORLEANS — President Donald Trump boasted about immunity at his first rally since his COVID-19 diagnosis. 

“Now they say I'm immune,” Mr. Trump told supporters at a large gathering in Florida on Monday. “I feel so powerful, I'll walk into that audience. I'll walk in there, I'll kiss everyone in that audience..." 

Experts say it’s unclear what degree of immunity you get from contracting the virus. 

Just this week, the Lancet Infectious Disease Journal published a report about a 25-year-old Nevada man found to have been infected twice with COVID-19. 

He tested positive in April after showing mild symptoms, then got sick again in late May with a more serious bout.

Dr. Najy Masri, an associate professor of medicine at LSU Medical School says the risk of reinfection brings up a couple of concerns. 

“Could this Cornavirus have multiple strains and mutated to the point now where you could be immune to one virus, then susceptible to a different strain?” Masri said. “The other point of concern is how it effects the vaccines.”

The big pharmaceutical companies are now in the late stages of clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines.   

Tulane University virologist Dr. Robert Garry says the virus is certainly mutating. 

“I think you’ll find most scientists, most people who study Coronaviruses know that immunity can be somewhat short lived,” Garry said. “That means that any vaccine that we get is probably going to be a once a year, once every other year thing.” 

The Nevada patient is the first confirmed case of Coronavirus reinfection in the U.S.  At least four other cases have been found worldwide. 

“We’re now 6 months into this pandemic, so there will be people that will have been infected early on, that have seen their immunity wane and they might be susceptible to a second infection,” Dr. Garry said. 

Doctors say even people who have already been sick with COVID-19 need to protect themselves from the virus. 

“There still exists the possibility of reinfection and they should follow social distancing, wearing of masks, avoidance of large gathering just like everybody else,” Dr. Masri said. 

And, according to the Nevada case, you could get it worse the second time you get the virus. 

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