Some variants of COVID-19 concern the medical and scientific world because of their greater contagion capacity and the speed with which they can cause serious disease, but infections with two different mutations have not been reported simultaneously, so far. An unvaccinated woman fell ill with two different variants of COVID at the same time and died in less than a week in Belgium.
The 90-year-old woman was admitted to the OLV hospital in the Belgian city of Aalst after suffering a series of falls that required medical attention. She lived alone at home and had nursing care at home, but had not been vaccinated.
On March 3, the unidentified woman entered the hospital with no major conditions in her medical history, but Tested positive for COVID-19 on the same day of admission.
When analyzing the patient’s samples obtained with the PCR test, the treating medical team discovered that she had been infected with two different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus of concern, since it was present in her blood the Alpha mutation, also known as B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK, and the Beta or B.1.351 mutation, originating in South Africa.
According to the scientific report of the case presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), when hospitalized the woman did not present respiratory difficulties and her oxygen saturation was good, but his health condition rapidly worsened and he died just five days later.
Doctors confirmed the presence of both variants simultaneously in the woman with a second respiratory sample, through S gene sequencing and whole genome sequencing.
“This is one of the first documented cases of coinfection with two worrisome variants of SARS-CoV-2,” explained the doctor. Anne Vankeerberghen OLV Hospital, lead author of the case report. “Both variants were circulating in Belgium at the time, so it is likely that the woman was co-infected with different viruses from two different people.. Unfortunately, we don’t know how it got infected, ”he added.
It is not the first time that there has been talk of simultaneous infections with two different strains of the virus. In January 2021, two people in Brazil were reported to be infected with two different variants, B.1.1.28 and VUI-NP13L, both originating in that country; however, the cases have not yet been documented in a scientific journal.
Until now, just over 40% of the population in Belgium have completed their vaccination schedule against COVID-19, with 4.6 million people fully vaccinated.