The recent death of a 90-year-old Belgian woman, who tested positive for two coronavirus variants together, has triggered concerns regarding the likelihood of a person contracting different variants at the same time.
The nonagenarian woman, who wasn't vaccinated, was found infected with the Alpha (first detected in the United Kingdom) and Beta (first detected in South Africa) variants. She died five days after being hospitalised.
This wasn't a standalone case. In January this year, scientists in Brazil had reported that two people had been simultaneously infected by two variants of coronavirus. Earlier, a 17-year-old in Portugal was also found infected with two COVID-19 variants.
However, the possibility of a person contracting two different SARS-CoV-2 variants at the same time is said to be very rare but not unlikely.
According to a Reuters report, the European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, which studied the case of the Belgian woman, has confirmed that it is possible to catch two COVID-19 variants simultaneously.
The medical body said it was possible that the woman contracted the infection from two different people who had tested positive for the Alpha and Beta variants respectively.
Medical experts say that the virus takes time to multiply and affect all cells and in the meantime, the unaffected cells can host another virus from other sources.
Is a person infected with two variants in a more critical condition?
No study has so far suggested that contracting two variants simultaneously can make a case more critical. Experts say that both variants similarly impact the body. Besides, all COVID-19 vaccines are almost equally effective against the different variants. The drugs and the treatment method for different variants are also the same.
Hence, if a drug or treatment method is helping a patient — infected with two variants — recuperate from one variant of the virus, the effect of the other variant will also reduce.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)