Irish researchers publish findings on COVID immunity.
Irish researchers publish findings on COVID immunity. Getty Images

A female healthcare worker who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in both April 2020 and November 2020 is thought to be the first reported case of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection in Ireland.

"To our knowledge, this is the first report of reinfection from Ireland," a team of researchers said in “Genomic Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 Reinfection in Ireland,” which was recently published in the Irish Medical Journal.

The paper said that the 40-year-old healthcare worker “presented with fever, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath, and dysgeusia in April 2020.”

While she was not hospitalized during her initial infection, she was not able to work for four weeks due to significant and persistent symptoms, including headaches and fatigue. The female, it was noted, is not immunocompromised and has a mild form of asthma.

Seven months later in November 2020, the female “represented with cough, headache, sore throat, fatigue, and myalgia" and again tested positive for COVID-19.

“Symptoms were milder and she experienced a quicker recovery, remaining off work for the two-week period of self-isolation. She reports a post-viral wheeze controlled with low dose inhaler.”

The second infection was confirmed by whole-genome sequencing.

The researchers said that this not incidence of reinfection “is not well characterized.”

“Infection control precautions may still be required in healthcare facilities, even in previously infected and possibly in vaccinated individuals while SARS-CoV-2 remains in circulation,” the researchers said.

“Further research on the nature and duration of immunity is required to inform public health and infection control policy.”

The paper also notes: "The race to protect healthcare workers, prevent further deaths, and to return to normal social and economic activity by establishing herd immunity through vaccination has begun worldwide.

"COVID-19 vaccines have shown efficacy rates of 70-95% in clinical trials; however, the effectiveness in populations overall and the durability of immunity is yet to be evaluated.

"Lasting immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection may prove not to be universal in those previously infected or vaccinated."

RTE reports that in early May, data from Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre showed there had been around 514 cases of Covid-19 reinfection in the country.

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