Mutant of delta variant blamed for Nevada man’s rapid reinfection

Mutant of delta variant blamed for Nevada man’s rapid reinfection
Mutant of delta variant blamed for Nevada man’s rapid reinfection

The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory has identified a rare case of COVID-19 reinfection occurring just 22 days after the patient first tested positive.

The patient, an unvaccinated 31-year-old Mineral County man with no underlying health conditions, first tested positive for the delta variant and then, three weeks later, for a different strain that evolved from the delta variant, Mark Pandori, director of the lab at the University of Nevada, Reno’s School of Medicine, told the Review-Journal this week.

 

Infection from COVID-19 typically results in immunity from reinfection for a minimum of several months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such rapid reinfection, especially in a young and healthy individual, could mean that the virus has mutated to a degree that makes it more resistant than previously seen to the protection afforded by past infection or from vaccination.

More such reinfections would first need to be identified to know if this is the case.

“We don’t know how widespread the phenomenon is right now, but it implies that the virus is definitely going to be fine in terms of staying in circulation in the population,” given how much the strain that caused the reinfection differs from the delta variant, he said.

The strain, a sublineage of delta known as AY.26, has 31 genetic differences from delta, including on the spike protein, the part of the virus targeted by vaccines, he said. It is this genetic variety that especially concerns him.

“My concern is that there’s a scientific rationale for this being indicative of a bigger problem,” said Pandori, whose lab in August 2020 reported the first known case of COVID-19 reinfection in North America.