A patient in the UK has COVID-19 for 505 consecutive days

One Scientists report that a British patient with a severely weakened immune system has had COVID-19 for almost a year and a half, underscoring the importance of protecting vulnerable people from the coronavirus.

There’s no way to know for sure if it’s the most enduring case of COVID-19 because not everyone gets tested, especially as often as this is the case.

But at 505 days, “it’s definitely the longest-reported infection,” said Dr. Luke Blagdon Snell, an infectious disease specialist at Guy’s & St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said.

Snell’s team plans to present some “persistent” COVID-19 cases at a Infectious diseases encountered in Portugal this weekend.

Their study investigated what mutations arise – and whether variants evolve – in people with super-long-term infections. It involved nine patients who had tested positive for the virus for at least eight weeks. All had weakened immune systems due to organ transplants, HIV, cancer, or treatment for other illnesses. No one has been identified for privacy reasons.

Repeated tests showed that their infection lasted an average of 73 days. Two people have been infected with the virus for more than a year. Before that, the researchers said, the longest known case was confirmed by a PCR test that lasted 335 days.

Enduring COVID-19 is rare and different from long-term COVID.

“During Long COVID, it is often assumed that the virus has cleared from your body but the symptoms persist,” says Snell. “With persistent infection, it represents active, ongoing replication of the virus.”

Each time the researchers test a patient, they analyze the virus’ genetic code to make sure it’s the same strain and that everyone hasn’t been infected with COVID-19 more than once. However, genetic sequencing shows that the virus has changed over time, mutating as it adapts.

The mutations were similar to those that later emerged in widespread variants, Snell said, although none of the patients produced the new mutations that turned into worrisome variants, Snell said. There is also no evidence that they spread the virus to others.

The person with the longest known infection tested positive in early 2020, was treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir and died around 2021. The researchers declined to say the cause of death and said the person was This one has some other disease.

Five patients survived. Two cleared the infection without treatment, two cleared after treatment and one still had COVID-19. At his last follow-up visit earlier this year, that patient’s infection had lasted 412 days.

Researchers hope more treatments will be developed to help people with persistent infections beat the virus.

“We need to be aware that there are some people who are more susceptible to these problems, such as persistent infections and severe illness,” Snell said.

Although persistent infections are rare, experts say there are many people with compromised immune systems who are still at risk of serious COVID-19 infection and who are trying to stay safe after The government lifted restrictions and masks started rolling out. Wesley Long, a pathologist at Houston Methodist in Texas who was not involved in the study, said it’s not always easy to know who they are.

“Covering your face in a crowd is a must and one way we can protect others,” he said.

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