Unvaccinated 90-year-old woman has died after contracting two variants of Covid-19 simultaneously


Top line

A 90-year-old Belgian woman died in March after contracting two strains of Covid-19, medical researchers in Belgium said on Sunday, uncovering the first known case of a person simultaneously contracting two different strains of the virus as the concerns about new infectious variants are mounting around the world.


On March 3, the woman, who was not vaccinated, was admitted to a hospital in Belgium to treat injuries from a fall and tested positive for Covid-19 that day following a test procedural, according to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Although she initially showed no symptoms of the virus, she quickly developed respiratory problems that worsened rapidly and died in hospital five days later.

Doctors said they did not know how the woman got infected, but the presence of the alpha and beta strains, which were first identified in the UK and South Africa, respectively, were confirmed after that scientists analyzed the results of the widely used polymerase chain. Covid test reaction to look for variants of concern.

It is “difficult to say” whether the co-infection played a role in the rapid deterioration of the patient’s health, said Dr Anne Vankeerberghen, a molecular biologist at the hospital, noting that the case is the first of its kind to be published.

Vankeerberghen urged scientists to analyze a greater proportion of positive Covid test results in an effort to detect variants of concern, saying additional documented cases will be needed to better understand the impact of a Covid-19 co-infection .

Crucial quote

“This is one of the first documented cases of co-infection with two worrying variants of SARS-CoV-2,” Vankeerberghen said on Sunday. “These two 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.”

Large number

Four. That’s the number of worrisome variants that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says are circulating in the United States, including those identified in South Africa and the United Kingdom, alongside others in India, Japan and in Brazil.

Key context

Public health experts have expressed concern that the variants – and in particular the delta variant first identified in India – could undermine efforts to manage the pandemic, especially given the large disparities in immunization. in the USA. Citing the growing threat of the spread of these variants, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday called on G20 leaders to step up vaccine sharing efforts to help immunize at least 70% of the world’s population by ‘next year. “In addition to finance, the international community must do more to address short-term gaps in planning, coordination and logistics,” Yellen said, adding that G20 countries should particularly focus on helping countries. low- and middle-income earners who are battling further outbreaks of the virus. So far, around 3.4 billion doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered worldwide, representing around 25% of the world’s population.

Further reading

Unvaccinated Belgian woman contracted two variants of COVID (Reuters)

Infectious Delta variant now dominant strain of Covid in US, CDC says (Forbes)

Delta variant could push U.S. immunity to Covid to 85%, says former FDA director (Forbes)

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