Yesterday, in HKU Med Announces 1st Documented Reinfection With SARS-CoV-2, we saw the first laboratory confirmed reinfection of a COVID patient with a different strain of SARS-COV-2. Today, we have reports of 2 more cases, one in the Netherlands and the other in Belgium.
While there has been considerable speculation that acquired immunity following SARS-COV-2 infection might be limited in duration (see CDC Clarifies: Recovered COVID-19 Cases Are Not Necessarily Immune To Reinfection), until this week we'd not seen convincing laboratory evidence of reinfection.
The news comes via two well known European virologists; Marion Koopmans and Mark Van Ranst.
Tuesday, 25 August 2020A coronavirus reinfection has been discovered in Belgium, virologist Marc Van Ranst told VTM NIEUWS on Monday.
A re-infection with the corona virus has also been established in the Netherlands. That says virologist Marion Koopmans in a response to news about this from Hong Kong yesterday. There, a man appears to have been infected twice with the corona virus, which is officially called SARS-CoV-2.In the Netherlands, this concerns an elderly patient with a deteriorated immune system, reports Koopmans, one of the most important advisers to the World Health Organization and the cabinet."SARS-CoV-2 infections all have a different fingerprint, a genetic code," says Koopmans. "People can carry something with them for a long time after an infection and occasionally secrete a little RNA." That is the genetic material of these types of viruses.For an official recontamination, she says, researchers must be able to demonstrate that the codes of that RNA differ. This appears to be the case with patients in Hong Kong and the Netherlands.
In Belgium, a reinfection with the corona virus also came to light today. This concerns a woman in Leuven, who three months after the first time, became infected again with SARS-CoV-2.The virus has also been genetically identified here at both times, says Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst in the current affairs program Terzake . "There are indeed enough differences to be able to speak of a different strain, a second infection."
Two more cases, while a concern, aren't enough to tell us how big of a problem reinfection with SARS-COV-2 might become, or how it might impact the effectiveness and duration of protection from a vaccine.
Hopefully reinfection will prove to be relatively uncommon, and will result mostly in milder illness. Only time will tell.
But every step of the way, SARS-COV-2 has managed to surprise us. We underestimate it at our own peril.