- Confirmed cases of covid-19 reinfections reported
- Reinfections were expected says Dutch virologist
- Market's give sanguine response
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Two new cases of covid-19 reinfections have been reported on Tuesday, August 25, a development that could become increasingly important to global financial markets.
Dutch national broadcaster Nos reported on Tuesday that a patient in the Netherlands and another in Belgium have been confirmed as having been reinfected with the coronavirus.
The news of European reinfections follows news reports out just 24 hours earlier that a Hong Kong man had been reinfected.
Markets will likely become increasingly alert to news of covid-19 reinfections, where people who have previously had the disease test positive once again after apparently recovering.
Such a development would ask questions of the effectiveness of impending vaccines designed to protect against the virus, and potentially undermine the market's assessment that a return to normality will soon follow the release of these 'silver bullets'.
"The implication is that a vaccine against the current strain of coronavirus may prove ineffective against new strains as we see with the flu. Scientists may need to come up with a cocktail of coronavirus vaccines to give better immunity in future years," says John Meyer, Partner & Head of Research at SP Angel, a London-based brokerage.
For now, markets appear to be little fazed with developments with stocks continuing to rally and safe haven assets losing further ground.
"We view news of Coronavirus reinfection as hugely overdone," says Meyer. "Coronavirus reinfection is incredibly rare and appears to be from a less potent, mutated strain of the virus."
Virologist Marion Koopmans - cited by the Nos report - says the Dutch patient was an older person with a weakened immune system.
She said that cases where people have been sick with the virus a long time and it then flares up are better known, and that reinfections had been expected.
"That someone would pop up with a reinfection, it doesn't make me nervous," said Koopmans. "We have to see whether it happens often."
"Fortunately the new strain appears to be far more mild or the patient’s immune system was better able to manage the new strain," says Meyer.
A reinfection was reported in a 33 year old IT worker in Hong Kong, who was initially hospitalised in March and later discharged.
He tested negative in two subsequent tests but was then tested positive in a screening at Hong Kong airport on 15 August though he had no symptoms.
Genomic sequencing identified differences in the viruses, proving two separate infections, rather than a relapse.
“This is the world’s first documentation of a patient who recovered from Covid-19 but got another episode of Covid-19 afterwards,” the researchers said in a statement.
Experts cautioned that this patient’s case could be an outlier among the tens of millions of cases around the world and that immune protection may generally last longer than just a few months. They said that ongoing studies tracking patients who had recovered from Covid-19 would help reach more definitive conclusions. They also noted that the man’s second case was milder than his first, indicating that his immune system was providing some level of protection, even if it could not prevent the infection entirely.