Experts warn that it’s possible to become infected with two different variants of the coronavirus at the same time after identifying such a case in a 90-year-old Belgian woman, who died with both the Alpha and Beta types of Covid-19, according to reporting from the BBC.
The woman died in March of this year in Belgium, and had not been vaccinated.
Her doctors reportedly think she contracted the infections from two different people, and believe hers is the first documented case of a double infection.
The Alpha variant was first detected in the UK and the Beta variant was first detected in South Africa.
“Both 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,” lead researcher Dr. Anne Vankeerberghen, from the OLV hospital in Aalst, Belgium, told BBC.
“Unfortunately, we don't know how she became infected. She was a lady who lived alone, but she got a lot of helpers coming in to care for her. Whether the co-infection of the two variants of concern played a role in the fast deterioration of the patient is difficult to say.”
Experts say that double infections, while possible, are rare. The case of the Belgian woman is being discussed at the European Congress on Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, which is being held virtually from 9-12 July.
Scientists in Brazil detected 2 cases of double infections back in January of this year, and researchers in Portugal treated a 17-year-old who seemed to have contracted a second variant of Covid-19 while still recovering from a different coronavirus infection.
“Detecting two dominant variants of concern in a single person is not a surprise - these could have been passed on by a single infected individual, or by contact with multiple infected people,” Prof. Lawrence Young, an expert in virology at the University of Warwick told BBC.
Young said more studies were needed to determine whether such infections could compromise the efficacy of vaccination, or make for a worse case of Covid-19.
The Brussels Times