Home Health Coronavirus: Bangladeshi doctor 'catches infection for THIRD time'

Coronavirus: Bangladeshi doctor 'catches infection for THIRD time'


A Bangladeshi doctor has allegedly caught coronavirus three times, according to local reports that would mark a world-first.

The medic — referred to only as Dr Das — is said to have caught the disease in the first instance in April while on the frontlines of the epidemic.

After beating the illness and returning to work, he then developed a fever, loss of appetite and aches in July, media in Bangladesh claimed. He isolated at home for seven days and was allowed to return to work following a negative test that proved he had cleared his illness. 

The doctor’s coronavirus symptoms then appeared again in the second week of October, and a positive test confirmed it was the viral disease.   

Some scientific advisers speculated that the virus had laid dormant in his body for months, causing his three repeat infections — but this has never been proven with Covid.

But British experts have warned the report is likely to be ‘nonsense’, saying details on whether or not the three strains were genetically different — the only way of proving it was a re-infection — were not reported.

A doctor in Bangladesh claims to have caught coronavirus three times, according to local reports that would mark a world-first. Re-infections have been reported in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Belgium, and the US

A doctor in Bangladesh claims to have caught coronavirus three times, according to local reports that would mark a world-first. Re-infections have been reported in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Belgium, and the US 

However, research is starting to mount that immunity against the coronavirus may only last a short period of time, and therefore a person can catch it repeatedly like the common cold or flu.  

The largest study on Covid-19 immunity — published by British researchers yesterday — suggested reinfection can occur between six to 12 months after beating Covid the first time.    

While it’s possible to catch the disease a second time, scientists agree it’s unlikely to happen within a year.  

People with weaker immune systems — such as the elderly — struggle to make large amounts of antibodies, disease-fighting proteins found in blood that store memories of how to fight off specific viruses. 

In vulnerable and elderly people antibodies often fade quicker, meaning they lose any protection they had developed against Covid-19.  

REVEALED: THE TRUTH ON COVID IMMUNITY, ANTIBODIES AND T CELLS 

Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system which store memories of how to fight off a specific virus. 

They come in different forms and may attack viruses and destroy them themselves, or may force the body to produce other kinds of immune cells and white blood cells to do the dirty work for them. 

They can only be created if the body is exposed to the virus by getting infected for real, or through a vaccine or other type of specialist immune therapy.

Once antibodies have been created once – the body essentially moulds them around a virus when it encounters one in the blood – the body usually retains a memory of how to make them and which ones go with which virus. 

Generally speaking, antibodies produce immunity to a virus because they are redeployed if it enters the body for a second time, defeating the bug faster than it can take hold and cause an illness. 

Scientists are still unsure on the truth on immunity because Covid-19 has only been around since January – meaning its long-term effects are still unclear.

So far cases of people getting infected more than once have not been numerous nor convincing.

With some illnesses such as chickenpox, the body can remember exactly how to destroy it and becomes able to fend it off before symptoms start if it gets back into the body. But it is so far unclear how long Covid-19 patients are protected for. 

Evidence is beginning to suggest that antibodies disappear in as little as eight weeks after infection with the coronavirus, scientifically called SARS-Cov-2. 

However, antibodies are only one type of substance that can produce immunity. The immune system is a huge web of proteins that have different functions to protect the body against infection. 

T cells — which can’t be detected by the ‘have you had it’ antibody tests — made in response to the infection may offer a form of immunity that lasts several times longer.

T cells are a type of white blood cell that are a key component of the immune system and help fight off disease. 

Other scientific studies have shown people who have had a common cold in the past two years have T cells that show ‘cross-reactive protection’ against Covid-19.

Details about the Bangladeshi case are scarce but have been picked up widely by Chinese media.

It’s unclear how old Dr Das is or whether he had any underlying illnesses — but his profession would have seen him exposed to the virus. 

Local media outlets reported that Dr Das had suffered symptoms on three separate occasions — in April, July and October. 

According to the China Central Television news website, citing a local newspaper in Bangladesh, 25 people in Bangladesh have been re-infected with Covid. 

Dr A.S.M. Alamgir, senior scientific officer at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research in Bangladesh, told the Global Times that within six months of the first infection, the virus may become dormant in a patient’s body and cause a second infection. 

However, Wang Peiyu, deputy head of Peking University’s School of Public Health, China, suggested that the man’s immunity to the coronavirus faded, and so it was possible he could be re-infected again.

Dr Peiyu said: ‘This is a rare case, and there are two possible reasons: one is that the person’s immune system and resistance is weak, so the antibody stays in the body for too short a time, leading to a third infection. 

‘The second possibility might be that the virus has undergone a greater degree of mutation, and the antibodies originally produced are no longer sufficient to resist the virus.’

Dr Peiyu said this situation was ‘unlikely to happen in China’, but did not expand on why.

Dr David Strain, a clinical senior lecturer, University of Exeter and chair of the British Medical Association’s Medical Academic Staff Committee, said that reinfection was entirely possible. 

But he is dubious of the details in this report. He told MailOnline that case was likely to be ‘nonsense’.

And he said it is not clear whether he had three separate infections, or whether tests spotted dead fragments of the virus multiple times. 

Hundreds of supposed cases of reinfection in South Korea and China early in the crisis were proven to be false positives caused by dead viral particles.

PCR tests – which amplify people’s genetics to hunt for parts of the disease – are sometimes so accurate they spot tiny remnants of virus from previous infection.

These tests cannot distinguish whether the virus detected in people’s bodies is dead or alive, and can therefore lead to false positives.

However, this would not explain why the Bangladeshi doctor fell ill on three separate occasions. A dead virus is unlikely to have cause him illness.

Dr Strain added: ‘It is entirely possible he was just carrying the virus that one of his patients had presented with. It’s not a “false positive” per say, but that’s probably the closest description.

‘He probably had [viral particles] in his mouth and then tested positive. 

‘Even if he did not get significant infection but was little more than a carrier the second and third time, the fact that he was carrying the virus means he may have been infectious to his patients.’ 

A true re-infection requires genetic testing to see whether the two instances of the virus differ slightly.  

Dr Strain said: ‘Getting genetic testing on early infections was, and is, pretty difficult in Exeter with a genetic lab looking at specific geneotypes, let alone in a not particularly well resourced place like Bangladesh. 

‘The general view is we can get a cold or the flu more than once, so there is no reason you can’t get this virus more than once.’ 

REINFECTION COULD BE POSSIBLE WITHIN A YEAR, SCIENTISTS SAY 

A UK Government-led study on Tuesday found far fewer Britons have coronavirus antibodies now than at the peak of the first wave.

It raised concerns that protection against the disease is short-lived and that people may be able to get reinfected just months after recovering the first time.

The REACT-2 project — which sends out tens of thousands of DIY blood tests to work out how much of the population has been infected — found 4.4 per cent of people in England in September had Covid-19 antibodies, proteins in the blood trained to fight off the disease.

By comparison, the first round of the study in June found 6 per cent tested positive for antibodies, marking a fall of 26 per cent in three months. 

Worryingly, the biggest drop was spotted in the over-65s, who are most vulnerable to falling ill or dying from the disease.

Imperial College London scientists, who led the research, said they suspect natural protection against Covid-19 lasts between six to 12 months. 

They believe that most people will be vulnerable to reinfection after that time. 

However, antibodies are just one of several key components involved in immunity. For example, the study did not look into T cells, types of white blood cells found in Covid-19 survivors that also play a major role in preventing reinfection. 

Scientists insisted the truth on immunity is still murky and said it was possible that the body could still rapidly produce antibodies in the future, even if someone no longer tests positive for them. 

This may protect them from severe disease in the future.

Scientists have previously said we will have to ‘learn to live with the virus’.

Professor Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at University of East Anglia told MailOnline in October: ‘I think it is likely that the virus will be around for decades and infect people multiple times over their lifespan. 

‘However, because of residual immunity from prior infections or immunization, the disease will become far less severe and probably start to resemble to common cold. 

‘This probably was what happened with a couple of other betacoronaviruses, with the thrilling names of OC43 and HKU1.’ 

Experts believe the coronavirus kills around 0.5 per cent of everyone it infects, the equivalent of one death for every 200 patients. But the disease poses a much graver threat for the elderly than it does under-40s.

Using this infection-fatality rate (IFR) to estimate the true scale of England’s Covid-19 crisis, it would suggest the country has really had 8million cases — the equivalent of 14.3 per cent of the population. 

Dr Jeffrey Barrett, of the COVID-19 Genome Project at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, told MailOnline: ‘This report does not indicate that the virus genome was sequenced from any of the different positive tests, which makes it hard to confirm three repeat infections. Some people can be sick for months after a single infection.

‘There have been over 100million cases of Covid-19 around the world, and since we are seeing only a small number of fully confirmed reports of re-infection, it seems to be rare to be infected twice (or more) in the space of a few months. 

‘What we don’t know yet is whether people might be infected multiple times over much longer time scales, like years.’ 

It comes after a Government-led study on Tuesday found 26 per cent fewer Britons have coronavirus antibodies now than at the peak of the first wave.

It raised concerns that protection against the disease is short-lived and that people may be able to get reinfected just months after recovering the first time. 

Imperial College London scientists, who led the research, said they suspect natural protection against Covid-19 lasts between six to 12 months. 

They believe that most people will be vulnerable to reinfection after that time.  

Scientists insisted the truth on immunity is still murky and said it was possible that the body could still rapidly produce antibodies in the future, even if someone no longer tests positive for them. 

They said this may not protect them entirely but lead to a milder illness. 

However, Dr Strain said it could go the other way — in some diseases, illness gets more severe the more times a person is infected, such as with Dengue fever and Ebola.

He said: ‘What I would imagine is your second response is a lot more mild than the first. You’d be back to normal in about 72 hours because your memory cells respond quickly. 

‘Older adults would more at risk of getting a second infection because the immune system is slightly weaker. 

‘But the other thing we need to be careful of is the younger patients — those in their 50s or 60s — who died due to their overactive immune response to Covid. 

‘It is theoretically possible that the second response could be even more aggressive than the first.’ 

This response has been reported in a 25-year-old American man, one of the handful of cases of re-infection across the globe that have been reported before. 

Doctors in the US reported in The Lancet last week of a unnamed man who had two positive tests — one in April and one in June — with two negative tests in-between indicating he recovered from the first bout of illness. 

Genetic analysis of the swabs showed ‘significant differences’ between the variants in the viruses DNA, which suggests he was truly infected twice.

The second infection was symptomatically more severe than the first, the doctors in Nevada reported. 

The first illness, the man had a sore throat, cough, headache, nausea, and diarrhoea and recovered within 10 days. The second time, he had the same symptoms for five days before getting short of breath and needing oxygen. 

It followed the cases of two European Covid-19 survivors who had been re-infected after recovering from the disease. 

In some cases, the details of re-infection have been scarce or there is no genetic testing to back up the claims. It may just be a case of faulty testing.

But the cases indicate that previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 does not necessarily translate to guaranteed total immunity over a long period. 

This would make stamping the life-threatening virus out even more challenging because patients that had the coronavirus back in the spring could be re-infected this winter. 

The implications of reinfections could be relevant for vaccine development because it may mean people need booster jabs after the first one to offer robust protection. 

Dr Strain said: ‘It is obviously worrying regarding the vaccines. If you can get different strains at different time then the vaccine may end up being pointless.

‘It also undermines the herd immunity path that some degree is still being followed.’ 

WHERE HAVE REINFECTIONS BEEN REPORTED? 

Hong Kong

August 24: The 33-year-old man — who had no known underlying conditions — tested positive four months after he recovered from his first bout of the life-threatening disease.

He was first diagnosed on March 26 after having a cough, sore throat, fever and headache, according to parts of the paper revealed by a journalist at the South China Morning Post

In his second episode, the man was tested on August 15 when he returned to Hong Kong from Spain via the UK. He did not have any symptoms. 

Genetic analysis revealed his second infection, which he caught on a trip to Europe, was caused by a different strain of the virus.

The Netherlands

August 25: The Dutch national broadcaster NOS cited virologist Marion Koopmans saying the Dutch patient was an older person with a weakened immune system. 

It is not clear how he was discovered the second time or if he had symptoms.

Ms Koopmans, also an adviser to the Dutch government, said it is known there are cases where people have been sick with the virus a long time and it then flares up again later.

But a true re-infection requires genetic testing to see whether the two instances of the virus differ slightly. She did not clarify if this had been the case for the Dutch patient.

Belgium

August 25: A Belgian patient tested twice for Covid-19, the NOS cited virologist Marc Van Ranst as saying. 

He had ‘mild symptoms’, according to Mr Van Ranst, but it is not clear which episode of illness he was referring to.

But ‘it’s not good news,’ he added. 

It’s not clear if the Belgian patient’s viruses were put through genetic sequencing to confirm they were different. 

US 

October 12: A 25-year-old man from Washoe County in the US state of Nevada tested positive twice for the coronavirus, once in April and the second time in June. He had two negative tests inbetween.

The first illness, the man had a sore throat, cough, headache, nausea, and diarrhoea and recovered within 10 days. The second time, he had the same symptoms for five days before getting short of breath and needing oxygen. 

The second time, two positive test results were obtained to check the man had definitely been infected again. However, it is also positive the first time he received a ‘false positive’, and so was not actually infected originally. 

Doctors wrote in The Lancet: ‘Genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 showed genetically significant differences between each variant associated with each instance of infection.’

Japan

March: It was revealed a Japanese man in his 70s tested positive for Covid-19 a second time. He was first infected while on board the coronavirus-ridden Diamond Princess cruise ship in February.

He tested positive two weeks after he recovered and tested negative. It is not clear how many times he had a negative result. 

It may be possible someone can test positive for longer than two weeks as their body tries to clear the virus, and the negative result was false.

A Japanese woman was also diagnosed again two weeks after her recovery. 

The woman, working as a tour bus guide in Wuhan, where the disease first emerged in December 2019, tested positive on February 26 after a negative result on February 6. 

Academics said it was a ‘concern’, but there was too little information to draw conclusions. 

Both cases are not known to have had confirmation of second infection with genetic sequencing. 

South Korea   

April: South Korean officials feared a group of almost 300 people had been reinfected after the country saw the virus fizzle out. 

But later, a senior South Korean official said the flurry of cases were due to a testing fault — and not down to short-lived immunity. 

Infectious disease experts revealed that dead virus fragments can remain within the body, possibly for months.

These lingering fragments may cause a positive result, even though the person is not sick or infectious anymore. 



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and John Cornyn slam Biden cabinet picks, suggesting confirmation fight

Two Republican Senators have blasted President-Elect Joe Biden's cabinet picks, suggesting they might try to block the nomination process after January's inauguration. In tweets...

The Grand Tour: Jeremy Clarkson swam in SHARK-infested waters after Richard Hammond tried French

They're preparing for the release of their latest The Grand Tour special, A Massive Hunt, this time taking on one of the world's...

Michael Schumacher's son opens up on 'extraordinary' father in rare emotional interview

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has not been seen in public since a horrific skiing accident in December 2013, which left the German...

Philip Green's Arcadia empire faces collapse within HOURS as 13,000 staff face losing their job

The group behind major high street brands including Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins could collapse within hours - with 13,000 staff facing losing their...

Nikki Bella shares photo of fiance Artem Chigvintsev kissing baby boy as they plan couples therapy

Nikki Bella shares photo of fiance Artem Chigvintsev kissing baby boy...