A woman has died after contracting two COVID variants at the same time

·3-min read
Photo credit: Yulia Shaihudinova - Getty Images
Photo credit: Yulia Shaihudinova - Getty Images

Well over a year since the UK went into lockdown for the first time, scientists, doctors and public health officials are still continuously learning new things about COVID.

As new variants have emerged, transmissibility has altered, certain symptoms have become more apparent and vaccines have been scrutinised for their efficacy.

By now, most will be familiar with the fact that the virus mutates into new strains, some of which - like the Delta variant that's now dominant in the UK - are more effective at spreading around the community.

While, in the vast majority of cases, a person will only be infected with one variant, experts are warning it is possible to catch two at once, after the death of an elderly woman in Belgium.

The woman, who was 90-years-old and had not been vaccinated, became sick with the Alpha and Beta types first identified in the UK and South Africa, respectively, according to the BBC.

Doctors suspect the woman, who died in March, contracted the infections from two different people. They believe it is the first documented case of its kind and, although rare, reports of similar dual infections have been discussed around the world.

Lead researcher Dr Anne Vankeerberghen, from the OLV hospital in Aalst, Belgium, said (via the BBC): "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. Unfortunately, we don't know how she became infected... Whether the co-infection of the two variants of concern played a role in the fast deterioration of the patient is difficult to say."

Photo credit: Morsa Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Morsa Images - Getty Images

What we do know is that at present, the vaccination rollout is significantly disrupting the link between case numbers and subsequent hospitalisations and deaths. But that said, you can still catch the virus after being double jabbed, and new research has found in this instance, symptoms can be different from the ones we're familiar with.

As a reminder, the three physical signs that are officially listed as indicators of COVID in the UK are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to sense of smell or taste. But research from the ZOE COVID Symptom study - which asks volunteers to monitor any symptoms they have via an app, as well as logging COVID test results and whether they've been vaccinated - has found a different symptom pattern in those who have received two vaccine doses.

The research, which has attracted hundreds of millions of self health reports from users around the country, found that the highest ranking COVID symptoms after two vaccinations were:

  • Headache

  • Runny nose

  • Sneezing

  • Sore throat

In another part of the report, the ZOE study said it had found that "fewer symptoms were reported over a shorter period of time by those who had already had a jab, suggesting that they were falling less seriously ill and getting better more quickly."

As we continue to learn more about COVID, one thing's clear: it's still essential to pay attention to your health, isolate if you're not well, keep following the mask-wearing and hand-washing guidance, and hopefully we can keep transmission levels as low as possible.

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting