A pregnant woman supposedly infected with COVID-19 was taken to the Skåne University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden, manifesting intense abdominal pain.
The doctors observed that the unborn infant had a concerningly low heart rate, which is often a sign that the baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen.
The doctors rapidly began performing an emergency cesarean section and managed to deliver the baby in a few minutes.
Blood tests revealed that the baby had deficient oxygen and manifested throat swabs which led to the conclusion that both the mother and the baby were suffering from COVID.
Throat swabs from the mother and newborn helped sequence the genome from the virus, and that helped confirm that the infant was infected with the virus while still in the womb.
The doctors initially discovered that the viral genome in the mother and the baby was identical. Since the infant was isolated from the mother soon after the intervention and had not contacted relatives before the tests were carried out, the results confirmed that the baby was infected before being born.
A few days later, ulterior genetic sequencing proved that the baby’s virus population evolved differently and included a mutated version of the virus on top of the mother’s initial virus strain.
It is a world premiere, as it is the first case of a genetic change of the coronavirus in the unique setting of mother-to-fetus transmission pre-birth, Sciencealert reports.
Though it is normal to see viruses mutate, the new mutation, known as A107G, took place only five days after the baby’s birth.