A Belgian woman passed away after being infected with different variants of the deadly disease, researchers found.
A Onze Lieve Vrouwziekenhuis (OLV) Hospital study confirmed the 90-year-old simultaneously carried both Alpha and Beta variants of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Virus when she died on March 8.
According to researchers the woman lived alone, received home nursing care, and was unvaccinated against the CCP Virus. She was first admitted to OLV Hospital on March 3 at Aalst, about 33km (21 miles) northwest of Brussels. She showed normal oxygen levels before the virus rapidly spread and killed her just five days after.
Medical workers confirmed they tested her respiratory sample and discovered she was simultaneously infected with the British and South African virus strains.
She represents the country’s first known case of a patient contracting multiple strains of the CCP Virus. Her experiences were included in research presented at the 2021 European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, held online from July 9 to 12.
“This is one of the first documented cases of co-infection with two Sars-CoV-2 variants of concern,” hospital molecular biologist Anne Vankeerberghen said according to the Independent. “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.”
Her team of researchers failed to determine exactly how the woman became infected, or whether her dual-infection could have caused her health condition to rapidly deteriorate. They suspect the number of patients carrying different strains is “probably underestimated,” according to NDTV.
Infection from multiple CCP Virus strains is not a completely novel idea. Earlier in 2021, scientists from Brazil reported two cases of simultaneous infection. However, their study did not appear in any scientific journal at the time of publication. The latest finding could suggest multiple infections are more widespread than initially thought.
“The global occurrence of this phenomenon is probably underestimated due to limited testing for variants of concern and the lack of a simple way to identify co-infections with whole genome sequencing,” Vankeerberghen said according to Bloomberg. “Being alert to co-infections remains crucial.”
Warwick University virologist Lawrence Young believes further research is warranted.
“This study does highlight the need for more studies to determine whether infection with multiple variants of concern affects the clinical course of COVID-19 (CCP Virus), and whether this in any way compromises the efficacy of vaccination,” he said according to the Guardian.
Pfizer recently warned its CCP Virus vaccine might start to wear off about six months after being first injected. The pharmaceutical giant recommended a booster dose for optimum protection without reviewing specific data on vaccine efficiency.