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According to experts, 90-year-old women from Belgian died after falling ill with covid-19 was infected with both the Alpha and Beta variants of the coronavirus at the same time.
After a series of falls in March, the unvaccinated lady was hospitalised to the OLV hospital in the city of Aalst and tested positive for Covid-19 the same day.
While her oxygen levels were initially adequate, her health soon deteriorated and she died five days later.
She tested positive for both the Alpha strain and the Beta variant.“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,” said molecular biologist Anne Vankeerberghen from the OLV hospital who led the research.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know how she became infected. ” Vankeerberghen stated it was impossible to say whether the co-infection contributed to the patient’s health and is the main reason for its rapid decline.
The study, which has not yet been published in a medical journal, will be presented at a European congress on microbiology and infectious diseases.
While Vankeerberghen stated that there had been “no other reported examples” of comparable co-infections, she added that the “phenomenon is probably underestimated”.
“This was due to a lack of testing for potentially harmful variations, she said, urging a greater use of rapid PCR testing to detect known variants.
Scientists in Brazil claimed in January that two people had been simultaneously infected with two different strains of the coronavirus at the same time, but the research has yet to be published in a scholarly publication.
According to Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said that finding single individual infected with several strains was not surprising. “This study does emphasise the need for more studies to determine whether infection with multiple variants of concern alters the clinical course of Covid-19 and whether this in any way limits immunisation efficacy,” he said