Dutch, Belgian patients re-infected with coronavirus

Amsterdam: A patient in the Netherlands and another in Belgium have been confirmed as having been re-infected with the coronavirus, Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported on Tuesday, citing virologists.

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The news follows a report this week by researchers in Hong Kong about a man there who had been re-infected four and a half months after being declared recovered.

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The NOS cited virologist Marion Koopmans as saying the Dutch patient was an older person with a weakened immune system.

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She said that cases where people have been sick with the virus a long time and it then flares up are better known.

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But a true re-infection, as in the Dutch, Belgian and Hong Kong cases, requires genetic testing of the virus in both the first and second infection to see whether the two instances of the virus differ slightly.

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Koopmans, an adviser to the Dutch government, said re-infections had been expected.

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“That someone would pop up with a re-infection, it doesn’t make me nervous,” she said. “We have to see whether it happens often.” The Belgian patient had mild symptoms, the NOS cited virologist Marc Van Ranst as saying. But “it’s not good news,” he added.

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He said the case shows antibodies the patient developed during the first exposure were not enough to prevent a second case with the slightly different variant of the virus.

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He said it is not clear whether such cases are rare or whether there are “many more people who could have a re-infection after six or seven months”.

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The Morning and Evening Brief

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