In the past few months we have heard a lot of “variants” of COVID 19. Brits, South Africans or others seem to be more contagious than the original virus. Brazilian scientists have focused on studying the case of people infected with two different strains at the same time.
This study focuses on two cases infected with two different variants of SARS-COV-2, the COVID 19 virus. While the infected individuals did not experience serious effects or hospitalizations, the researchers observed infection from multiple strains of other viruses such as influenza, for example. Several questions have been raised from these findings. In particular, how these viruses can interact and what this would mean for the new variants.
We know that viruses are constantly mutating, that they themselves produce more or less contaminating variants. During an infection, we also know that the patient’s immune response can be different. Most virus mutations have no effect on the virus itself … However, if there are numerous replications, or if they escape the immune system, there may be danger.
Mutations in influenza and hepatitis C.
These two viruses mutate because they create many replications with each infection. And these replications produce errors almost every time. Then, by creating bugs, they form new viruses that are related but different from the original virus. These viruses, known as RNA, interact differently with host cells and the immune system. And, therefore, can affect any treatment that was originally given for the virus first.
What about coronavirus?
Contrary to what one might think, coronaviruses have a lower mutation rate than the flu. They mutate, but cause fewer mutation errors than the others. The detection of several variants in one and the same person could therefore be the result of a co-infection. Or the mutation of the virus after infection with the original virus.
Coronaviruses have a lower mutation rate than the flu. Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Phonlamai Photo
The fear of scientists
Researchers fear that SARS COV 2 will mutate even faster in the future. Coronaviruses are viruses whose genetic sequences can change significantly. When two coronaviruses infect the same person, they can exchange important parts of their genome and create new, unknown sequences. Evidence of recombination was also found in the laboratory, but also in an infected patient. Which could lead to new, still unknown variants in the more or less near future.
As you may have understood, the coronaviruses are still a long way from revealing all of their secrets … Perhaps the wisest thing is to continue to respect barrier gestures, wear the mask and protect yourself … studies on variants are starting to increase in pain but better to hold on than to heal, right?