WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A cancer survivor who contracted COVID-19 in spring in 2020 has remained infected by the virus for a record 335 days.
- The 47-year-old woman had a compromised immune system after her cancer treatment, which potentially allowed the virus to remain in her body so long.
- Researchers observed similar genetic deletions or mutations in the virus in other patients with chronic infections.
A 47-year-old cancer survivor who contracted COVID-19 in spring in 2020 has remained infected by the virus for a record 335 days.
According to Science Magazine, the woman was first hospitalized at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where her nearly year-long infection was tracked through repeated positive COVID-19 tests. Symptoms also continued, which required her to have supplemental oxygen at home.
Months after her initial infection in spring 2020, her tests kept showing up positive despite the virus levels in her body being barely detectable. Her virus levels then spiked in March 2021.
Researchers found that virus samples collected during her original infection was the same with the more recent spike. This meant that she wasn’t reinfected — her body has been harboring the virus for nearly a year.
According to Science Magazine, it’s possible that the woman’s compromised immune system allowed the virus to remain in her body so long.
She had been successfully treated with CAR T-cell therapy about three years ago for lymphoma, a cancer in a part of the immune system. This cancer treatment depleted most of her body’s B cells, the cells that make antibodies, greatly weakening her immune system.
Another reported case of unusually long Covid was observed in another immunocompromised patient in Washington. The patient, who has leukemia, was infected for 70 days.
Molecular virologist and senior study author Elodie Ghedin said that analyzing samples from patients with weakened immune systems or chronic infections could allow researchers to observe how the virus explores and evolves in the human body’s genetic space.
Researchers observed two genetic deletions or mutations in the virus that was sampled from the patient who had lymphoma. One was found in some of the genes of the virus’s spike protein (which the virus uses to invade human cells) while the other was a big deletion outside the spike protein, an area that’s not widely studied. A similar deletion outside the spike protein was also found in other patients with chronic infections.
The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, was posted as a preprint on medRxiv.
Source: Live Science