First case of reinfection (Covid-19) by the South African variant: what we know


A patient who contracted Covid-19 last September is the victim of a new infection with the South African variant. This second exposure to the virus triggers a more severe form of the disease.

In September 2020, this French patient had already been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Without seriousness, the illness resolved itself, causing a fever and moderate breathing difficulties. The patient had been followed at Louis Mourrier hospital (AP-HP) in the team of Professor Jean-Damien Ricard, who treated him again during its reinfection by the South African variant, explains an APH-HP press release. The sighting was also published on the Oxford Academic website.

At the time, a PCR test had been performed and had confirmed that the patient was positive, before becoming negative during a control in December 2020. In addition, his serology indicated that his body had made antibodies and that he was apparently protected against reinfection. Recently, the patient presented again an episode of fever and breathing difficulties which brought him to the Louis Mourrier hospital.

Reinfection resulting in acute respiratory distress

Doctors performed a PCR test which came back positive. During the sequencing of the virus, they noticed that it was infected with the South African variant. This time his condition deteriorated rapidly, he presented with acute respiratory distress, to the point of being transferred to intensive care and intubated with mechanical ventilation.

While it is not known which form of the virus the patient first contracted, temporality rules out the possibility that it was the South African variant. It is the first case of serious reinfection by a mutation of Covid-19. This also suggests that being immune to the virus does not protect against all of its types. This example also reinforces the questions concerning the effectiveness of the vaccine against the various mutations.

Sources : AP-HP, Oxford Academic

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