An 89 year old Dutch woman has become what is believed to be the first known person to die after catching Covid-19 twice, according to researchers in the Netherlands, raising questions about immunity and antibodies.
The woman, who suffered from a rare type of bone marrow cancer, first tested positive for the virus earlier this year, after being admitted to hospital with a severe cough and fever. She was discharged five days later. Nearly two months after her first Covid-19 episode, the woman developed symptoms again while she was in chemotherapy treatment. She once again tested positive for Covid-19, and no antibodies were detected in her blood system when tested on days four and six. Her condition deteriorated on day eight, and she sadly passed away.
Her immune system was compromised due to the cell-depleting therapy she was receiving, but researchers wrote that her natural immune response could still have been "sufficient" to fight-off Covid-19, as the type of treatment she received for cancer "does not necessarily result in life threatening disease."
According to the Telegraph, researchers have confirmed 23 cases of Covid-19 reinfection, but in all prior cases, the patient had recovered.
"The demonstration that it is possible to be reinfected by SARS-CoV-2 may suggest that a COVID-19 vaccine may not be totally protective," said Brendan Wren, a professor of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene. "However, given the (more than) 40 million cases worldwide, these small examples of reinfection are tiny and should not deter efforts to develop vaccines."