A Belgium woman who died after falling ill with Covid-19 was infected with both the Alpha and Beta variants of the coronavirus at the same time. Researchers said Sunday that the rare phenomenon may be underestimated.The 90-year-old unvaccinated woman lived alone and received at-home nursing care, was admitted to the OLV Hospital in the Belgian city of Aalst after a spate of falls in March and tested positive for Covid-19 the same day. While her oxygen levels were initially good, her condition deteriorated rapidly and she died five days later.
When medical staff tested for the presence of any variants of concern they found that she was carrying both the Alpha strain, which originated in Britain, and the Beta variant first detected in South Africa. molecular biologist Anne Vankeerberghen from the OLV Hospital who led the research said that both of these variants were circulating in Belgium at the time, so it is likely that the lady was co-infected with different viruses from two different people.
The research lead also said it was difficult to say whether the co-infection played a role in the fast deterioration of the patient. The research, which has not yet been submitted to a medical journal for publication, is being presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases. Vankeerberghen said that there had been no other published cases of similar co-infections and added that this phenomenon is underestimated.
Lawrence Young, a virologist and Professor of Molecular Oncology at the University of Warwick said that this study does highlight the need for more studies to determine whether infection with multiple variants of concern affects the clinical course of Covid-19 and whether this compromises the efficacy of vaccination.