A professor of Virology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof. Sunday Omilabu, says an individual can be infected with two different strains of COVID-19 at the same time.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Omilabu said when an individual is exposed to COVID-19, he can be infected with two variants of the virus.
“There are a lot of cells in the respiratory cells and the viruses have cells to infect if they are there. The only thing that will make you know is that it will increase the severity of that infection. So, a diagnosis needs to be carried out to establish that it is the virus that is causing it.”
The Daily Mail had earlier reported that two patients in Brazil 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-19 infection.
Researchers at Feevale University discovered that swabbing 90 infected people in Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil, one of the patients tested positive for two Brazilian strains that evolved separately in different states, known as P.1 and P.2.
Speaking on the reports, Omilabu, who is also Director, Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology, CMUL, said there is the need for more research and to also monitor the variants in circulation everywhere because the virus is not stable.
“Anywhere the virus is, it has the chances of changing. We need to check our environment to know the one that is circulating. We need to do more sequencing, but we don’t have the reagents for that and we have to send them abroad.
“We should be concerned about the mutation of the virus because it carries a lot of conditions; it has been seen with some of the variants that they are more transmissible than what we had in the first wave.
“That is the effect of mutation because they are protein that is changing and the protein is responsible for the transmissibility.
“You also have to look at the age prevalence, which is between the younger ones and the older ones; so, there is no age difference like what we had in the first wave. So, there is a cause for concern when dealing with variants,” he said.
According to the World Health Organisation, all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, change over time, most without a direct benefit to the virus in terms of increasing its infectiousness or transmissibility, and sometimes limiting propagation.
The health agency noted that the potential for virus mutation increases with the frequency of human and animal infections.
Therefore, reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by using established disease control methods as well as avoiding introductions to animal populations, are critical aspects of the global strategy to reduce the occurrence of mutations that have negative public health implications.
The world health body, however, advised national and local authorities to continue to strengthen existing disease control activities, including monitoring their epidemics closely through ongoing epidemiological surveillance and strategic testing; conducting outbreak investigation and contact tracing; and where appropriate, adjusting public health and social measures to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
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