One of the longest known sufferers of Covid tested positive for nearly 18 months before death



One person who is now the longest known Coronavirus sufferer tested positive for the virus for 505 days before their death. Before this the longest known infection was staggering 335 days.

For most people who contract Covid they are able to shake the virus off within a matter of days. However for the patient in question they had a severely weakened immune system and multiple comorbidities.

The patient first tested positive for the virus in the early months of 2020 and continued to test positive on several occasions. This continued right until they sadly passed away in 2021.

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Researchers who have studied the virus from nine Covid patients in London, have also provided evidence that new Covid variants may arise in immunocompromised individuals. Presenting their details at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Lisbon, Portugal.

They have described details of one of the first hidden Covid infections – cases where the patient was thought to have cleared the virus with a negative test but is subsequently found to have had an ongoing infection. The team, from King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, were interested in how the virus changes over time in immunocompromised individuals.

First author Dr Luke Blagdon Snell, of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “New variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, have emerged throughout the pandemic.

“Some of these variants transmit more easily between people, cause more severe disease, or make the vaccines less effective. 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 infection with SARS-CoV-2.

“We wanted to investigate which mutations arise, and if variants evolve, in these people with persistent infection.” Nine immunocompromised patients who tested positive for the virus for at least eight weeks were included in the study.

Infections lasted for 73 days, on average, but two patients had persistent infections for more than a year. The patients, who were studied between March 2020 and December 2021, had weakened immune systems due to organ transplantation, HIV, cancer, or medical therapies for other illnesses.

Analysis showed that five of the nine patients developed at least one mutation seen in variants of concern. Some of the people developed multiple mutations associated with variants of concern, such as Alpha, Delta and Omicron.

The researchers found that the virus from one patient contained 10 mutations that would arise separately in variants of concern, such as Alpha, Gamma and Omicron. Dr Snell and colleagues said: “This provides evidence that mutations found in variants of concern do arise in immunocompromised patients and so supports the idea that new variants of the viruses may develop in immunocompromised individuals.

“It is important to note, however, that none of the individuals in our work developed new variants that became widespread variants of concern. Additionally, whilst this work shows variants could arise in immunocompromised individuals, whether the previous variants of concern like Alpha, Delta and Omicron arose in this manner remains unknown.”

Five of the nine patients survived, and one still has an infection. At their last follow-up in early 2022, that patient had been infected for 412 days. The person has been treated with monoclonal antibodies, but if they still test positive at their next appointment, researchers suggest they will likely pass the longest known infection of 505 days as described in the new study.




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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