Scientists from the Academic Centre for Pathomorphological and Genetic-Molecular Diagnostics and the Medical University of Bialystok identified several cases of coexistence of two variants of coronavirus in one sample.
The research was carried out as part of the national program for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 virus variants "MAPA RT-COVAR".
Genetic analyzes involving the sequencing of whole viral genomes showed that genetic material of, at least 11 patients, contained "worrying" variants: the Delta variant and the Alpha variant. At the turn of April and May this year. a similar case was also found, but because it was a single case - it was not decided to deepen the analysis on this topic. No similar results were seen in the prior period of the pandemic.
Scientists have already created a working hypothesis that perhaps the phenomenon of co-infection at the level of SARS-CoV-2 sub-variants has emerged now, as it is at this point that the Delta variant begins to displace the Alpha variant, dominant from February / March 2021. The details of the biological mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 sub-variant co-infection are not known, and the topic raises many questions: does the presence of two variants of the virus simultaneously affect the severity of COVID-19? Will the currently used vaccine preparations be equally effective against the combination of two variants simultaneously? Can sub-variant co-infections be transmissible to other people? Can the coexistence of two variants in one patient persist or will the Delta variant dominate over time? Answers to these and other questions are currently the subject of in-depth analyzes at the experimental, clinical and epidemiological levels.
From April 2021, Academic Centre for Pathomorphological and Genetic-Molecular Diagnostics together with MUB in coordination with the National Institute of Hygiene conducted over 2 000 analyzes of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing from patients from all over Poland. Information on the current share of alert variants in Poland is largely due to the researchers from Białystok who co-create and update the RT-COVAR Map.