A Dutch woman has become the first known person to die from COVID-19 after getting reinfected a second time. Her death has now raised serious questions about how long immunity and antibodies can last during reinfections.
Researchers from the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands said that the 89-year-old woman suffered from a rare type of bone marrow cancer. Her immune system was compromised due to the cell-depleting therapy she was receiving.
The researchers, however, say that her natural immune response could still have been sufficient to fight off COVID.
She initially got infected earlier this year with severe cough and fever as some of the visible symptoms. The woman was then discharged five days later after the symptoms subsided completely.
The second infection came two days into her chemotherapy treatment (2 months after recovering from the first infection). No antibodies were detected in her blood system and she was confirmed dead two weeks later.
This is the first documented case of someone dying from a second infection of the coronavirus.
The implications of reinfections could be relevant for vaccine development and application. From a public health perspective, all individuals—whether previously diagnosed or not—must take identical precautions to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2. Further work is needed to assess immune reactions in vitro after reinfection