Imagine being Covid-19 positive for 16 months, or as UK doctors reported, 505 days: It’s the longest known individual battle with the virus, which ultimately claimed the unidentified British patient’s life.
TESTED COVID-19 POSITIVE 50 TIMES
The revelation was made at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon, Portugal this week.
The patient tested positive for COVID-19 for 505 days before their death. The previous longest known PCR test confirmed case is thought to be 335 days.
They first started exhibiting symptoms and tested positive in early 2020, since then the Briton was repeatedly hospitalised and underwent PCR testing over the following 72 weeks, about 50 times in total. Antiviral treatment was administered but the virus remains.
It was also learnt that no mutations were spawned. No further details on the patient were revealed, from their identification details to medical diagnoses or vaccination status.
NEW RECORD HOLDER FOR THE GRIM TITLE COULD EMERGE SOON
In total, researchers monitored nine Covid-19 patients in London who were all immunocompromised. The team, from King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, were researching how the virus changed over time in immunocompromised individuals.
The study occurred between March 2020 and December 2021, each of the patients had weakened immune systems due to organ transplantation, HIV, cancer, or medical therapies for other illnesses.
Five of the nine observed patients have survived their Covid-19 battles. Two of those five beat the infection without treatment, two cleared the infection after antiviral and antibody treatment.
However, one patient has an ongoing infection and at their previous follow-up, this year had already been infected for 412 days.
They have received treatment and should they remain positive at their next follow-up appointment, they will claim the unenviable recognition of having the longest known Covid-19 infection.
WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEMS MEAN HIGHER CHANCE FOR NEW VARIANTS
The study’s first author, Luke Blagdon Snell from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, says new Covid-19 variants have emerged throughout the pandemic and they had a hypothesis to test.
“One theory is that these viral variants evolve in individuals whose immune systems are weakened from illness or medical treatments like chemotherapy, who can have persistent Covid-19 infections. We wanted to investigate which mutations arise, and if variants evolve, in these people with persistent infection,” s
aid Dr Luke Blagdon Snell.
Sampling and genetic analysis of the virus were constant and it showed that five of the nine patients developed at least one mutation seen in one of the five variants of concern.
The researchers say their study provides evidence that mutations found in variants of concern do arise in immunocompromised patients and supports the idea that new variants may develop in immunocompromised individuals.