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Two people in Europe reinfected with coronavirus: Reports

AMSTERDAM/BRUSSELS: Two European patients are confirmed to have been reinfected with the coronavirus, according to regional public broadcasters, raising concerns about people's immunity to the virus as the world struggles to tame the pandemic.

The news follows a report this week by researchers in Hong Kong about a man there who had been reinfected four and a half months after he was declared to have recovered.

That has fuelled fears about the effectiveness of potential vaccines against the virus, though experts say there would need to be many more cases of reinfection for these to be justified.

Broadcasters said yesterday a patient in the Netherlands and another in Belgium had also been reinfected with the virus.

Dutch broadcaster NOS cited virologist Marion Koopmans as saying the patient in the Netherlands was an older person with a weakened immune system.

Professor Koopmans, an adviser to the Dutch government, said reinfections had been expected.

"That someone would pop up with a reinfection, it doesn't make me nervous," she said.

"We have to see whether it happens often."

Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst told Belgian broadcaster VRT he had not been surprised by the Hong Kong reinfection.

"For us it was not news because we have also had such a case in Belgium," he told the Terzake programme.

The Belgian case was a woman who had contracted Covid-19 for a first time in the second week of March and for a second time in June.

Professor Van Ranst said in cases like the one of the Belgian woman, in which the symptoms were relatively mild, the body may not have created enough antibodies to prevent a reinfection, although they might have helped limit the sickness. - REUTERS

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