An elderly Belgian woman who passed away in March due to Covid-19 had apparently contracted two different variants of the virus at the same time.
Reuters reports the case of the elderly patient, who was unvaccinated, was discussed at the annual European Congress on Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).
The woman, who was 90 when she died, had contracted both the alpha and beta variants of the virus, which were first detected in the U.K. and South Africa respectively. Her doctors reportedly said she could have contracted the variants from two different people.
The woman was treated at a hospital near Aalst, Belgium, according to Belgian media.
The Guardian reports, that two similar cases of simultaneous infection were reported in January in Brazil though the findings have yet to be published in scientific journal.
Other patients have been confirmed to have contracted Covid-19 again after initially recovering from an initial infection, but this is believed to be the first confirmed case of someone contracting two different variants at the same time.
Last year, scientists confirmed that a 25-year-old Nevada man had contracted covid-19 twice, with the second case being more severe.
Despite how uncommon a double-infection appears, virologist Lawrence Young of the University of Warwick told the Guardian that it was not surprising to hear about the Belgian woman’s case.
“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 and whether this in any way compromises the efficacy of vaccination,” Young told the outlet.