Dutch woman, 89, dies due to Covid-19 reinfection; experts concerned
The woman was infected with Covid-19 in the beginning this year and developed severe cough and fever. She was discharged from the hospital after she was cured. It was almost two months later during the second day of her chemotherapy treatment it was found out that she had the coronavirus, again.Updated: Oct 15, 2020, 12:36 IST
As cases of reinfections continue to be reported from across the world, an octogenarian woman from the Netherlands became the first person who died after getting reinfected from coronavirus.
Researchers from Maastricht University Medical Center in a paper highlighted that even though the Dutchwoman was suffering from Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, a type of cancer where abnormal amounts of macroglobulin (a protein) is made by the cancer cells, there should have been enough immune response to fight off the virus. The disease is also known as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma according to the website, cancer.org.
The researchers also outlined that the lady was immunocompromised because due to her Waldenström’s she was receiving B-cell-depleting therapy which resulted in ‘declined humoral immunity’.
The woman was infected with Covid-19 in the beginning this year and developed severe cough and fever. She was discharged from the hospital after she was cured. It was almost two months later during the second day of her chemotherapy treatment it was found out that she had the coronavirus, again. Tests revealed that she had not developed any antibodies and eight days post-diagnosis the lady passed away. She had developed fever, cough and had difficulty breathing during her second episode of Covid-19.
The study also outlines that despite the B-cell-depleting therapy making her immunocompromised, she had enough immunity in her body to fight the Covid-19 infection. The findings point out, “It was shown that B-cell-depleting therapy does not necessarily result in life threatening disease, suggesting that the innate immune response and T-cell immunity can be sufficient to eliminate Sars-CoV-2.”
Researchers also mentioned that there are parallels between the Dutch lady’s reinfection with that of the reinfections reported from Nevada and Hong Kong. The Nevada man was reinfected with coronavirus twice this year and his second bout of infection was due to a reinfection not ‘prolonged shedding’, a process of shedding viral debris even after the infection has gone.
The viral genomes also revealed that similar to Nevada’s Washoe County reinfection case, this woman’s second episode of infection had different genetic makeup from the first. This shows that it was a case of reinfection and also it was severe the second time as it was the case with the man from Nevada.
Researchers from Maastricht University Medical Center also said that Covid-19 can reinfect once antibodies become sparse. The study said, “Sars-CoV-2 reinfections are expected to occur once antibody titers decrease and immunity wanes… Our patient and the Nevada patient suffered from an early reinfection within 2 months, unfortunately without serum samples in between episodes. The Nevada resident did develop a measurable antibody response after the second episode. Our patient did not have antibodies 6 days after the start of the second episode, but seroconversion can take a few days longer.”
The death of the Dutchwoman shows that the concerns around reinfection are legitimate as cities across the world have restarted economic activities. The concerns regarding reinfection would worry governments as European Union sees a resurgence of the coronavirus. India’s health ministry too told the media last week that it will pay attention to the cases of reinfection and advised people to follow protocols.