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High schooler here.

What is the probability of the coronavirus evolving to gain traits of HIV/any other virus from a person suffering from both ailments?

As COVID virus enters cells that are already infected by other virus, what determines which of the two virii will survive and what mechanism governs what traits surviving virus will adopt/integrate?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE. I’m voting to close this question because it: 1) doesn't demonstrate that you've done the expected prior research (see also the "homework policy"), and 2) asks multiple questions (the second of which is much too broad). These are both reasons for closure and downvoting. Please take the tour and consult the help center starting with How to Ask for details of what is expected. $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 18:45

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Similar viral strains allow genetic transfer hence recombination. The recombined strain can be selected from the original strains by its better or worse characteristics.

This does not happen in HIV x COVID-19. They are dissimilar and none of the recombinants has been observe to exist.


There is a probability of similar viruses gaining each other's genetic traits while replicating. This is known as horizontal gene transfer. This also happens in viruses, where double infections can allow genetic material between two strains to be exchanged while replicating. As the example you mentioned, the SARS-CoV-2 (the name of the virus; COVID-19 is the name of the syndrome/disease) has evidence of horizontal gene transfer between pangolin coronaviruses (Wang, Pipes, and Nelsen, 2020). Currently, there is no evidence that horizontal gene transfer happens between HIV and SARS-CoV-2 probably because they are too dissimilar.

We have seen the "how" of these things happen. Then, "what" governs the survivability of those recombination strains? Remember, recombination is a mere game of chance, there are combinations which are poor fit and some better. For poor recombinants, its viral characteristics are poorer than its origins, hence it fails to spread. On the other hand, a "better" strain is more fit (as in Darwinian fitness) than its origins, hence it spreads quicker. It's viral characteristics, both the poor and the better, selects itself from its peers. This is the idea of natural selection.

You can check this article by Li, et. al. (2020). They explain the recombination of bat and pangolin coronavirus (which may be the genesis of SARS-CoV-2), is under further purifying selection. This causes the SARS-CoV-2 strains to show the severe and widespread viral characteristics as we see today.

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  • $\begingroup$ This part is not a continuity of my answer, however some reflection of my perspective. Welcome to SE Biology. To better understand the answer, you can first read a good introductory biology book, such as Campbell BIOLOGY. Then, you can start delve in the articles I mentioned in the answer. If you meet a difficult part inside the explanations, we are eager to help. I am glad you are interested in these topics as a high-schooler, and hope you continue your interest in tertiary education. I personally enter biomedicine after trying to understand a then tumor misdiagnosis when I was in HS. $\endgroup$
    – cc12amu
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 15:21

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