A 27-year-old woman in Bengaluru was infected a second time with the coronavirus, a month after her first bout, the Fortis Hospital said on Sunday, The Indian Express reported. Doctors claimed this was the first documented case of reinfection in Karnataka.
According to the team of experts in the Department of Infectious Diseases of the hospital, the woman, who had no history of comorbidities, tested positive for the first time in July after she developed mild symptoms. However, she recovered well and was discharged on July 24 after her test results were negative.
“However, nearly after a month, in the last week of August, she developed mild symptoms again and has tested positive again,” Pratik Patil, a Infectious Diseases Consultant at Fortis Hospital’s Bannerghatta Road facility said in a statement. “This is possibly the first reported case of Covid reinfection in Bangalore.”
Patil said that tests conducted on the patient show she did not develop any immunity towards the coronavirus. “Normally, in case of infection, the Covid Immunoglobulin G antibody test comes positive after 2-3 weeks of infection [showing that the patient has developed Covid-fighting cells],” he explained. “However, in this patient, the antibody test has come out negative, which means she did not develop immunity after first infection.”
The other possibility, Patil added, was that the antibodies disappeared within a month, leaving the woman susceptible to reinfection. “Reinfection cases mean that the antibodies may not be produced by every individual or if they do develop, they may not last long enough, and therefore, allowing the virus to enter the body and cause the disease again,” he said.
Patil said that in both the cases, the patient has not had a “severe disease” and was only exhibiting mild symptoms. The suspected reinfection case in Bengaluru comes at a time when the city has 41,479 active cases, till Sunday.
The world’s first confirmed case of reinfection was reported by scientists in Hong Kong on August 24, reportedly backed up by genetic sequences of the two episodes of the 33-year-old man’s infections in March and in August. The Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Professor Balram Bhargava at the time had said there was “no need to be alarmed immensely” over the reinfection case. But Balram had admitted that it is not yet known how long the immunity lasts in Covid-19 patients.
On August 26, Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender said that two cases of coronavirus reinfection have been reported in the state. The health minister claimed there is no guarantee that one will not get re-affected by the coronavirus after getting affected once and recovering.
However, Giridhar R Babu, professor and head of life course epidemiology at the Public Health Foundation of India told The Indian Express that the relapses will remain to be rare. “It has come to notice only after 3.8 lakh confirmed cases,” he said. “It will remain to be rare. The good news is that the second infection is less severe than first.”
Babu added that it is difficult to establish the reinfection. “Only more studies in the future can tell about the extent of reinfections,” he said.
Karnataka has reported 2,83,298 cases, including 6,938 deaths as of Sunday, according to the Union health ministry. India’s coronavirus tally, meanwhile, reached 41,13,811, after a record rise in cases of 90,632 cases in 24 hours. The toll rose by 1,065 to 70,626. India now has 8,62,320 active cases, while 31,80,865 people have recovered, pushing the recovery rate to 77.23%.