KOMPAS.com – The Omicron Covid-19 variant was first announced in late November 2021 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Omicron is known to spread very quickly. In fact, now Omicron is the dominant variant in various countries, such as in the UK, Australia, Mexico, and the United States.
Meanwhile, the Delta variant is still dominant in Indonesia with a total of 7,571 cases.
Such is the data on the Covid-19 sequence distribution map as of January 16, 2022 belonging to the Research and Development Agency of the Ministry of Health (Balitbangkes Kemenkes).
Nah, with the two virus variants still spreading, the question may arise: Can someone experience both Omicron and Delta variants at the same time?
Also read: Be careful, not as light as you imagine, Omicron is still deadly
The answer is, maybe.
Although very uncommon, there have so far been three cases where a person has two variants of Covid-19 at the same time.
The first known case of a paper scientific presentations presented at European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases some time ago.
A 90-year-old woman in Belgium is reportedly suffering from both alpha and beta variants after taking a Covid-19 test.
After being hospitalized for five days, he died. The cause of the two infections at once was not known.
The second case occurred in two patients in their 30s in Brazil.
Both had the P.2 variant, but the first patient had the Gamma variant, while the second patient had the B.1.91 variant at the same time.
Both patients suffered from mild symptoms, such as dry cough, headache, and sore throat.
While there have been no cases of someone suffering from the Delta and Omicron variants together, doctors say it could happen.
“From a molecular point of view, it could happen,” said Thomas Russo, professor and head of infectious disease at the University University at Buffalo.
Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, also said the same thing.
Read also: Israeli researchers suspect the fourth vaccine is ineffective against Omicron
“Biologically, a person can be infected with Omicron and Delta at the same time,” he said.
How did it happen?
Please note, the three cases above have no evidence related to the cause of the concurrent infection.
However, Dr Russo argues, the easiest way to understand it is through examples.
“Imagine coming to a bar with a lot of infected people,” he said.
“If one person has Omicron and the other has Delta, they spread the virus through the air, which exposes us to both.”
“So, you can catch two viruses at the same time,” he continued.
So how this can happen is actually quite simple.
The Omicron variant infects some cells, and the Delta variant infects others.
According to Russo, every time a virus enters the body, its particles will not bind to every cell.
So in coinfection, different types of viruses can bind to different cells at the same time.
Then, the division of infected cells is not 50:50. It could be someone has more Delta than Omicron or vice versa.
Meanwhile, Adalja said, one can also catch a second one strain “consecutively.”
Fortunately, this scenario may be more difficult to occur because the immune system begins to develop after the Covid-19 infection.
How to detect Omicron and Delta coinfection?
It will be difficult to know that we are coinfected.
Also read: How Long Do Omicron Symptoms Last?
Cause, good rapid test nor PCR tests, genome sequencing was not carried out that could identify a person’s virus variant.
Generally, even doctors cannot request genome sequencing for Covid-19 tests. The reason is, currently the sequencing of the genome is still being closely monitored and researched.
In the US alone, genome sequencing is performed only in specific situations. For example, when a large group of people catch Covid-19 at the same time.
If the above case occurs, it is necessary to sequence the genome to find out how and why the disease spread from a public health point of view.
The rest, it is not necessary.
Because according to Bobbi Pritt, Director of the Clinical Microbiology Division of the Mayo Clinic, one doesn’t really need to know the variant of Covid-19 he has because it doesn’t affect treatment.
Then, the symptoms caused will not help.
So while we might think that coinfection of two different strains of Covid-19 might cause some sort of increase in symptoms, that’s unlikely.
After all, as Omicron begins to outperform Delta in some countries like the US, the chances of coinfection will decrease.
Also read: 5 Things Parents Can Do To Help Children Deal With Omicron
According to Dr Russo, Omicron and Delta coinfection will be more likely when Omicron is just entering the US, when Delta is still dominant.
In addition, Dr. Russo argues getting a full vaccination can also lower the risk of any infection, including coinfection.
Adalja also said that coinfection is not a big problem, especially for doctors.
“This is unlikely to have a large pathophysiological impact (the study of how a disease affects the body’s systems),” he said.
Get updates news of choice and breaking news every day from Kompas.com. Let’s join the Telegram group “Kompas.com News Update”, how to click the link https://t.me/kompascomupdate, then join. You must first install the Telegram application on your cellphone.