Kerala student, India's first COVID-19 patient, reinfected with virus
A medical student from Kerala's Thrissur district, who was the first COVID-19 case in India last January, has contracted the virus again, reports said on Tuesday. After a gap of one-and-a-half years, she tested positive during routine COVID-19 testing before her flight to Delhi. Reportedly, the woman remains asymptomatic. Her RT-PCR test returned positive, however, her antigen test was found negative.
The woman's health is stable, however, the source of the infection remains unknown. She is currently at home, Thrissur District Medical Officer KJ Reena told PTI. TNIE quoted Reena as saying, "There are instances in which people contract the virus for a second time. This can be such a case. We are closely in touch with her and following up on her health condition."
Confirming the development to TNIE, the 20-year-old woman said, "I took a COVID-19 test before going to Delhi. The antigen test was negative but the RT-PCR came back positive. I only have mild symptoms and am currently under home isolation."
The young woman, a native of Mathilakam, was first detected with the virus on January 30, 2020, on her return journey from China's Wuhan city, where the virus was first reported worldwide. She was treated at the Thrissur Medical College Hospital for weeks. She was discharged from the hospital on February 20, 2020, after testing negative. Reportedly, she has not been vaccinated yet.
Meanwhile, India continues to grapple with COVID-19. The nation reported over 31,000 new infections with 2,000+ fatalities over a single day, according to the latest update. After two brutal waves of the outbreak, India has reported a cumulative 3.09 crore infections (the world's second-highest) along with a death toll of 4.08 lakh (the world's third-highest). Experts now warn that a third wave is imminent.
Although coronavirus reinfections are rare, being reinfected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is quite possible. Immunity from the virus attained after an infection is said to last from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Further, the emergence of new variants of COVID-19 through multiple mutations could also allow the virus to develop an "immune escape" mechanism.
With the emergence of the Delta Plus variant in India, a new mutation in the Delta lineage, there is a growing fear of increased reinfections. While research remains inconclusive, some experts say that reinfections involving the Delta Plus variant have so far been mild and don't require hospitalization. Experts also said that the lack of genome sequencing makes an accurate diagnosis of reinfections difficult.