Watch: An 89-year-old Dutch woman is the first confirmed case of a person dying from a COVID-19 reinfection
A woman in the Netherlands has become the first person to die after being reinfected with coronavirus.
The elderly patient was the subject of an academic paper recently published by the Oxford University Press which said that the woman died 59 days after the start of her first bout of the virus.
The 89-year-old reportedly also suffered from a rare bone marrow type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was diagnosed with coronavirus for a second time just two days after beginning chemotherapy.
Researchers tested her during both episodes and confirmed that the genetic makeup of the virus was different, making it likely that the woman was indeed suffering from reinfection.
They also noted that her symptoms appeared to have “subsided entirely” when she was discharged from hospital after first being infected with coronavirus.
Lead researcher Mark Pandori, from the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory in the US, said: “While more research is needed, the possibility of reinfections could have significant implications for our understanding of COVID-19 immunity, especially in the absence of an effective vaccine.
“It also strongly suggests that individuals who have tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 should continue to take serious precautions when it comes to the virus, including social distancing, wearing face masks, and handwashing.”
There have only been 23 cases of reinfection worldwide so far according to the researchers, and in all previous cases the patients have made a full recovery.
Watch: Can you get coronavirus again if you've already had it?
The first recorded reinfection was a 33-year-old Hong Kong national in August whose second infection was reportedly asymptomatic.
Experts believed that since the second infection was less severe there appeared to be some “immunological memory”.
Prior to the Dutch case, however, a 25-year-old man in Nevada caught the virus twice with the second case being more severe than the first.
The man needed hospital treatment after his lungs could not get enough oxygen into his body, but he has since recovered.
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