Researchers at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwziekenhuis Hospital (OLVZ) in Alost (northern Belgium) have detected the case of a nonagenarian woman who died in March after being infected with two variants of the coronavirus, the alpha, appeared in the United Kingdom, and the beta, originally from South Africa.
“This is one of the first documented cases of coinfection with two worrisome variants of SARS-CoV-2”‘, said the molecular biologist Anne Vankeerberghen, author of the study, in statements collected by the newspaper De Morgen.
The woman, who had not been vaccinated, was admitted to the hospital in March after having tested positive for the coronavirus.
Although his oxygen levels were good at first, his condition deteriorated rapidly and he passed away five days after being admitted to the hospital.
When they tested for the worrisome variants, medical staff found that the patient had been infected with alpha and beta.
“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“said Vankeerberghen, who acknowledged that they do not know how it was infected.
According to the molecular biologist, it is “difficult” to know whether the infection with the two variants influenced the rapid deterioration of the elderly woman’s health.
The research has not yet been submitted for publication in a medical journal, but it is covered in the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).
In a statement collected by De Morgen, Vankeerberghen said that there are no other published cases of infections with two variants, but added that this phenomenon “is probably underestimated”, in part because of the limited tests performed to detect variants.