contaminated by two variants at the same time, a Belgian dies

According to scientists, coronaviruses have a genetic correction mechanism compared to other RNA viruses. That is, a complex molecular machinery that is involved in maintaining the integrity of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome, preventing and normally repairing mutations. However, viral mutations do occur and can increase in frequency due to natural selection for favorable mutations or epidemiological factors. The point is, variants of Covid-19 evolved and spread quickly. But one point seems to have been “underestimated” by experts, the possibility of simultaneous infections. This Sunday, Belgian researchers revealed “one of the first documented cases of co-infection”.

90-year-old woman dies infected with “Alpha” and “Beta” variants

A 90-year-old woman in Belgium was infected with two different variants of the Covid-19 virus at the same time, researchers have found; The alpha and beta variants that first appeared in the UK and South Africa, respectively. The unvaccinated woman was admitted to the Belgian city hospital Alast (OLVZ Alast) on March 3 after several falls and confirmed positive for Covid-19 on the same day. Although she showed no early signs of breathlessness, her condition quickly deteriorated and she died five days after admission.

When the patient’s airway sample was being processed for genome sequencing, the researchers found that she was infected with the “Alpha” and “Beta” variants. “This is one of the first documented cases of co-infection with two worrying variants of Sars-CoV-2. (…) These two variants were in circulation in Belgium at the time, so it is likely that the lady was co-infected with different viruses from two different people, ”said molecular biologist Anne Vankeerberghen, who was working on a“ study on the case “Has contributed. Dr. Anne Vankeerbergen from OLVZ Alast is responsible for the development and validation of new qPCR assays and monitors their performance in routine diagnostics.

Increased surveillance is required

According to the scientist, no other case of this type of co-infection has yet been published. The biologist explains that “the global occurrence of this phenomenon is probably underestimated because of the limited number of tests for the variants of concern and the lack of an easy way to identify the co-infections with the whole genome”. Sequencing “. And Anne Vankeerberghen, who advises: “We encourage scientists to analyze a large part of their positive samples for VOC analysis quickly, easily and inexpensively, instead of only sequencing a small part of the entire genome”, because “regardless of the technique used”, Being alert to co-infections remains crucial ”.

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