Resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 Delta after Omicron variant superinfection in an immunocompromised pediatric patient

Arghavan Alisoltani, Lacy M. Simons, Maria Francesca Reyes Agnes, Taylor A. Heald-Sargent, William J. Muller, Larry K. Kociolek, Judd F. Hultquist, Ramon Lorenzo-Redondo, Egon A. Ozer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection in immunocompromised hosts is thought to contribute to viral evolution by facilitating long-term natural selection and viral recombination in cases of viral co-infection or superinfection. However, there are limited data on the longitudinal intra-host population dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 co-infection/superinfection, especially in pediatric populations. Here, we report a case of Delta-Omicron superinfection in a hospitalized, immunocompromised pediatric patient. Methods: We conducted Illumina whole genome sequencing (WGS) for longitudinal specimens to investigate intra-host dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 strains. Topoisomerase PCR cloning of Spike open-reading frame and Sanger sequencing of samples was performed for four specimens to validate the findings. Analysis of publicly available SARS-CoV-2 sequence data was performed to investigate the co-circulation and persistence of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Results: Results of WGS indicate the patient was initially infected with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant before developing a SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant superinfection, which became predominant. Shortly thereafter, viral loads decreased below the level of detection before resurgence of the original Delta variant with no residual trace of Omicron. After 54 days of persistent infection, the patient tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 but ultimately succumbed to a COVID-19-related death. Despite protracted treatment with remdesivir, no antiviral resistance mutations emerged. These results indicate a unique case of persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection with the Delta variant interposed by a transient superinfection with the Omicron variant. Analysis of publicly available sequence data suggests the persistence and ongoing evolution of Delta subvariants despite the global predominance of Omicron, potentially indicative of continued transmission in an unknown population or niche. Conclusion: A better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 intra-host population dynamics, persistence, and evolution during co-infections and/or superinfections will be required to continue optimizing patient care and to better predict the emergence of new variants of concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number246
JournalVirology Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Delta
  • Omicron
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Superinfection
  • Variants of concern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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