BERLIN — An 89-year old woman in the Netherlands died after being infected with the novel coronavirus for a second time, Dutch news reported Monday. Her case marks the first death from a reinfection of the virus.
The patient suffered from a rare white blood cell cancer called Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, and she developed a fever, cough and shortness of breath while receiving chemotherapy treatment. She tested positive for the coronavirus and died two weeks later, according to researchers.
Nearly two months earlier, the patient had tested positive for the coronavirus and suffered from a fever and severe cough.
Scientists have expressed hope that second infections are less severe, and that populations will develop herd immunity as enough people recover from infections. But this case, along with other recently confirmed cases of reinfection, raises questions about the conditions under which people develop immunity, the severity of reinfections and how long immunity lasts.
“The possibility of reinfections could have significant implications for our understanding of covid-19 immunity,” Mark Pandori of the University of Nevada told BBC News, after a 25-year-old man was hospitalized with a reinfection. He warned that people who’ve recovered from a first infection should still follow protective guidelines like wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.