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Curious to see what would happen in the event of a re-infection. Chepurnov became his own human guinea pig and deliberately exposed himself to COVID-19 patients without protection. Six months after his first infection, his body’s defences fell and he was again sick with coronavirus.
“The first sign was a sore throat,” he told the Daily Mail.
The second infection was much more serious and Chepurnov had to be hospitalized. “For five days my temperature remained above 39C. I lost the sense of smell, my taste perception changed,” he said.
By the sixth day of the illness, a CT scan of the lungs was clear. By the ninth day, a followup X-ray showed double pneumonia.
However, by the end of two weeks, the virus was no longer detected in the nasopharyngeal tract — the upper throat behind nose — nor in other samples.
Based on his own experience, Chepurnov concluded that it is futile to hope that herd immunity could stop the spread of COVID-19. A vaccine, he said, could garner immunity, but it would be temporary.
“We need a vaccine that can be used multiple times, a recombinant vaccine will not suit,” he said.
Currently, adenoviral vector-based vaccines — vaccines designed to insert a modified COVID-19 gene into the human body to provoke the production of spike proteins that will keep the individual immune against the real virus — are at the forefront of the global race to find a solution to the raging pandemic. However, several researchers, including Chepurnov have expressed concerns that repeated shots of the vaccine could backfire, triggering an immune response against the vaccine instead of the real virus.
“Once injected with an adenoviral vector-based vaccine, we won’t be able to repeat it because the immunity against the adenoviral carrier will keep interfering,” Chepurnov told the Daily Mail.