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First coronavirus reinfection death recorded in Netherlands

Christian Fernsby |
A woman in the Netherlands has become the first known person to die from coronavirus after being reinfected with the virus.

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Since the start of the pandemic, it has been unclear how long immunity lasts in people who have been infected with coronavirus. However, a number of recent reports show sufferers can be reinfected. The first reinfection case recorded was a woman in Hong Kong. In total, there have now been five confirmed reinfection cases.

In order to show the new coronavirus case is a reinfection, rather than the original infection re-emerging, laboratory tests must show key differences in the viruses responsible.

In an accepted manuscript that appears on the Oxford University Press (OUP) website, researchers report the case of a 89 year old woman from the Netherlands who was suffering from cancer.

She arrived at the emergency department with a severe cough and fever. A swab test showed she was positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus. After five days her symptoms had largely subsided and she was discharged.

Two months after first being diagnosed with coronavirus, she was in hospital for chemotherapy treatment when she developed a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Another swab test showed she was positive for SARS-CoV-2. Two antibody tests were performed but both came back negative.

Her condition deteriorated considerably after eight days and two weeks later she died.

After analyzing the viral genomes from her first and second positive coronavirus tests, researchers found they were different strains, showing she had been reinfected with the virus.

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