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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Researchers in Hong Kong say they've confirmed a case of coronavirus reinfection for the first time, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: A confirmed reinfection would mean that immunity to the virus can be short-lived. As a result, we shouldn't expect any sort of back-to-work magic bullet from any potential source or indicator of immunity — whether that's antibody testing, the use of blood plasma as a treatment, or perhaps even a vaccine.

  • At the same time, researchers do not know how big of a problem reinfection is likely to be — how common it is, who's most susceptible to it, or whether reinfections are any more or less dangerous than initial infections.
  • They had already suspected it could occur, but hadn't confirmed it with thorough testing until now.
  • A young, healthy patient contracted the virus for a second time roughly four months after recovering from it. The patient experienced only moderate symptoms the first time, and no symptoms the second time.

The bottom line: All of the public health and public policy responses to the virus depend on our scientific understanding of how it works — and we're still figuring that part out.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus may have been in U.S. in December 2019, study finds — Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposalFDA chief was called to West Wing to explain why agency hasn't moved faster on vaccine — The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic
  3. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as New York's COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. World: European regulators to assess first COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.

Chuck Grassley returns to Senate after recovering from COVID-19

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) returned to in-person work on Monday after quarantining with an asymptomatic case of the coronavirus, his office said in a statement.

Why it matters: Grassley, 87, is the second oldest member of the Senate, meaning he was at high risk for a severe infection. But the senator reports that he remained asymptomatic the entire time he was in quarantine.

24 hours ago - Health

Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that struggling state hospital systems must transfer patients to sites that are not nearing capacity, as rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations strain medical resources.

Why it matters: New York does not expect to get the same kind of help from thousands of out-of-state doctors and nurses that it got this spring, Cuomo acknowledged, as most of the country battles skyrocketing COVID hospitalizations and infections.

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