The world is a constantly changing place and that is especially true, now that we are dealing with a big unknown with the coronavirus pandemic. It seems as if we just keep getting new information, whether it is the danger we face (or don’t face) when it comes to touching things at the grocery store or how to properly wear a face mask. To be sure, we don’t really know what to expect when it comes to the virus and science just keeps trying to unlock the secrets. I’m sure we all agree that understanding more about the virus is vital when it comes to dealing with it successfully.
It seems as if things just turned a corner and it has left people wondering what is really happening with the pandemic. An elderly Dutch woman has died from COVID-19. That isn’t big news but what is strange is that she had COVID-19 twice. It is making researchers wonder about immunity and antibodies and how long they last.
The 89-year-old woman was in a serious high-risk category, as she is elderly and suffers from a rare type of bone marrow cancer called Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia. Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands had a paper published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
They feel that her natural immune response may have been ‘sufficient’ to fight the virus because her treatment ‘does not necessarily result in life-threatening disease’. Earlier this year, she was admitted to the hospital with a cough and fever and tested positive for COVID-19. Five days later, she was discharged after her symptoms dropped significantly.
After 59 days had passed, she was beginning chemotherapy and developed breathing problems, a cough and fever. She tested positive for COVID but there were no antibodies detected in her blood. She died two weeks later.
Researchers are not sure what happened and they did not test between the confirmed test results. They feel that “it is likely that the second episode was a reinfection rather than prolonged shedding.”
This marks the first time someone has died after contracting the virus for a second time. Reinfection has been seen in other cases, but this is the first death related to reinfection.
In The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers said: “Reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 has been reported in at least four individuals worldwide. Thus, previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 does not necessarily translate to guaranteed total immunity.
“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.”
Researchers say that it is to be expected that reinfections are going to take place as immunity drops and antibodies decrease.