Two patients in Brazil have tested positive for more than one strain of coronavirus at the same time in what is believed to be the world’s first double Covid infection.
Researchers at Feevale University made the discovery after swabbing 90 infected people in Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil.
One of the patients tested positive for two Brazilian strains which evolved separately in different states, known as P.1 and P.2.
P.1 has caused international alarm because it appears to be somewhat resistant to vaccines, which has led to Britain banning all travel from South America.
Another patient tested positive for P.2 and the B.1.91 strain, which first appeared in Sweden, at the same time, according to the study, which has not yet been published in a scientific journal or scrutinised by other scientists.
Fernando Spilki, the lead researcher on the study, said he feared the co-infections would ‘generate combinations and generate new variants even more quickly’.
Dr John McCauley, director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre at the Francis Crick Institute in London, told MailOnline it was possible for someone to get infected by two strains at the same time, which can happen with the flu.
He warned that, while unlikely, it was also biologically possible the two strains could interfere with one another and swap genetic code.
Getting one strain up a nostril and another up another nostril doesn’t matter…but (the risk is) if they get to the back of the throat and then go into the same cell – then there’s an opportunity for this to happen.’
Another senior scientist, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was possible the Brazilian scientists had contaminated their samples during sequencing, leading to incorrect results.
Brazil is in the middle of a devastating second wave of Covid, with more than 1,000 deaths a day, and has the second highest fatality toll worldwide. At least two variants have spawned there, which experts believe is due to such a high level of sustained transmission, and multiple others are in circulation.
Source: Daily Mail