The Dutch patient was elderly with a poor immune system, Koopmans said, but declined to give further details about their condition.
‘SARS CoV-2 infections all have a different fingerprint, or genetic code,’ she said. For a patient to officially be re-infected, they must show a different genetic code to the first time, she said, adding that this is the case with both the Hong Kong and the Dutch patient
In Belgium too, a women from Leuven has been diagnosed with coronavirus for the second time, three months after her first infection, during which she had mild symptoms.
Here too there are enough differences in the genetic code to speak of a second infection, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst told television programme Terzake.
Koopmans said that the second infection did not worry her unduly and that the strongest immune response has been found in the most seriously ill patients.
But it is still not clear how strong this protection or immunity is – or how long it lasts.
‘We have to see if this happens more often,’ she said. Second infections do occur with respiratory infections, and the risk of this happening has been discussed within the World Health Organisation, she said.
To find this out, a large group of patients will need to be followed for a longer period to determine if they develop an infection for a second time. ‘And we have to look at the genetic code of the viruses themselves,’ she told the broadcaster.
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