Coronavirus: Getting infected with two variants poses new pandemic risks

Coronavirus: Getting infected with two variants poses new pandemic risks

Experts believe that coronavirus co-infection amid the pandemic is likely ‘underestimated,’ and it might be ‘common.’

The coronavirus pandemic is far from over. As the battle continues, the public remains at the center of facing new and additional risks.

In previous months, experts and officials have focused on the emergence of different COVID-19 variants. Recently, however, several researchers and leads in the field are looking at a much newer occurrence. This is the “co-infection” or getting infected with two variants of COVID-19 at the same time.

Bloomberg reported that the phenomenon has revealed and posed new risks in the pandemic. It comes after a woman, who contracted the Alpha and Beta variants, died in Belgium.

Coronavirus co-infection in Belgium

A recent report, which has yet to be submitted for a medical journal publication, details the analysis of a coronavirus infection with multiple strains. Researchers presented it at a European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases on Saturday.

Experts revealed that a 90-year-old Belgian died after contracting two strains of the virus. A local hospital admitted her in March after a number of falls, and tested positive for COVID-19 on the same day.

The report adds that her symptoms “rapidly worsened,” leading to her death five days later. It points out, though, that she did not receive any vaccine against the virus. Moreover, the researchers could not reportedly say whether the co-infection of the Alpha and Beta variants played a role in the rapid deterioration.

Coronavirus co-infection in Belgium

Not a surprise among experts

Apart from the occurrence in Belgium, Brazilian scientists also reportedly recorded two cases of coronavirus co-infection in January. The publication said, however, that the study has yet to be released in a scientific journal.

Even so, such cases seemingly suggest that co-infection “might be more common” than anyone thought amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides, experts have reportedly previously found evidence of individuals contracting multiple strains of influenza, all at once.

Also, a virologist asserted that “it was not a surprise” to find people infected with more than one strain of coronavirus. Lawrence Young, then, stated that this only highlights the “need for more studies,” according to The Guardian.

A new risk in the COVID-19 pandemic

Following the presentation over the weekend, the lead author of the study claimed that co-infections are “probably underestimated” in the COVID-19 pandemic. She consequently referenced “limited testing” and “lack of a simple way” with the process of genome sequencing as some of the bases of the potential underestimation.

In the end, though, Anne Vankeerberghen emphasized that being alert to coronavirus co-infections “remains crucial.”

Images courtesy of Bloomberg Quicktake/YouTube

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