What do we know about the case of a woman infected with two coronavirus variants at the same time

What do we know about the case of a woman infected with two coronavirus variants at the same time

Presented at a microbiology congress, it would be the first described case of coinfection with different variants, although probably not the only one: sequencing needs to be increased

(photo: Getty Images) You can be infected with different variants coronavirus at the same time. The news comes from the European congress on microbiology and infectious diseases (Eccmid). During the event, molecular biology Anne Vankeerberghen, from the Olv hospital in Belgium, presented the case of a 90-year-old woman, infected with two variants of Sars-Cov-2 and who died a few days after admission, although, with current information, it is unclear whether the double infection made the situation worse. Experts, to be honest, don't seem too surprised by the possibility of a double infection. On the contrary, it is probable that the phenomenon is underestimated and for this reason we have to "give in" with the sequencing if we want to hope to know more, to understand, for example, if the simultaneous infection by more variants can involve greater risks.

The case

The elderly lady was hospitalized last March for a severe form of Covid-19. She had not yet been vaccinated, due to delays in delivering vaccines which also slowed Belgium's vaccination campaign. From the analyzes, reports Vankeerberghen, it appeared that the woman was infected at the same time by both the alpha and beta coronavirus variant, both of which were circulating in the country at the time.

It is not known how the infection occurred, but - adds the expert - it is possible that two different people were transmitting the infection to the patient. The patient's condition deteriorated quickly and after five days of hospitalization she passed away. However, with current data it is not possible to say whether the double infection contributed to worsening the load. More than a point of arrival, therefore, the study presented at the congress for experts must serve as a starting point. "This study - the University of Warwick virologist Lawrence Young commented to the Guardian - highlights the need for further research to determine whether infection with multiple variants of concern affects the clinical course of Covid-19 and if this compromises in some way the efficacy of vaccination ".

We need to sequence

Although there is not yet a publication in a scientific journal, the Belgian one is the first case of co-infection with coronavirus variants several presented to the scientific community. A couple more cases were announced in Brazil in January, but details of these are also unknown. However, the phenomenon of co-infection is likely to be underestimated (in other words, there could be many more cases) due to the poor genome sequencing of the virus in patients. Reason why, as we keep repeating, we need to increase it.

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