Medics are reporting what they believe to be the first case of Covid-19 re-infection in the Republic of Ireland.
In a paper published in the new edition of the Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), medics report that a 40-year-old female health care worker contracted Covid-19 seven months after first falling ill with the disease last year.
The paper counts consultant virologist and Laboratory Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory at UCD, Dr Cillian de Gascun as one of its co-authors.
They state “to our knowledge, this is the first report of re-infection from Ireland”.
The paper, entitled 'Genomic Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 Reinfection in Ireland', has also had an input from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and from Dr Sinead O'Donnell at the Dept of Clinical Microbiology at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Dr O'Donnell is listed as the 'corresponding author' for the paper.
The medics recount how the female health worker presented with fever, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath and dysgeusia (a disrotion of sense of taste) in April 2020.
The woman was diagnosed with Covid-19. They state: “While never hospitalised, she was unfit for work for four weeks due to significant headaches and persistent fatigue lasting four months.”
They state that one of two household contacts also developed Covid-19.
They state that seven months later in November 2020, the female health worker presented with cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue and myalgia.
The woman was again diagnosed with Covid-19 and this was done by whole genome sequencing.
However, the medics state symptoms were milder and a faster recovery took place.
The medics state that the woman remained off work for the two-week period of self-isolation.
The medics state that the woman reports a post viral wheeze controlled with low dose inhaler.
The medics state that the consequences of Covid-19 re-infection “are significant in health care workers due to the impact on service delivery and cross infection in other health care workers and patients”.
They state that “the incidence of Covid-19 reinfection is not well characterised”.
They further state that “infection control precautions may still be required in healthcare facilities while SARS-CoV-2 remains in circulation”.
They state that “the race to protect health-care workers, prevent further deaths and to return to normal social and economic activity by establishing herd immunity through vaccination has begun worldwide”.
They state that vaccines have shown efficacy rates of 70 per cent to 95 per cent in clinical trials, however, the effectiveness in populations overall and the durability of immunity is yet to be evaluated.
They add that “further study into the level and duration of immunity conferred by both infection with and vaccination against SARS-Cov-2 (Covid-19) is required to inform future vaccination campaigns and infection prevention and control policy”.