Coronavirus, the case of a woman infected with two variants together

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

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You can be infected with diverse variants in 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 died a few days after admission, although, with current information, it is not clear whether the double infection has worsened the situation. Experts, to be sure, don’t seem too surprised by the possibility of a double infection. On the contrary, the phenomenon is likely to be underestimated and for this 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 several variants can involve greater risks.

The case

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

It is not known how the infection occurred, but – adds the expert – it is possible that the infection was transmitted to the patient two different people. 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 – commented al Guardian University of Warwick virologist Lawrence Young – ehighlights the need for further research to determine whether infection with multiple variants of concern affects the clinical course of Covid-19 and whether this in any way compromises theeffectiveness of the vaccination.

We need to sequence

Though there is no publication yet 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, it is likely that the phenomenon of co-infection is underestimated (in other words there may be many more cases) due to the poor sequencing activity of the virus genome in patients. Reason why, as we keep repeating, we need to increase it.

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