Millions of people with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to others before they recover. According to doctors, for most patients, this period lasts about a week. However, if a person has concomitant serious illnesses, this period may change. The study, published in the journal Cell, describes the case of a coronavirus patient who has been spreading the infection for over two months.
Researchers at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found that a 71-year-old woman from Washington state had been infected with the coronavirus for at least 105 days. The patient also suffered from leukemia and had low levels of antibodies in her body. In the end, it turned out that the woman had been contagious for 70 days. However, the study showed that the patient had no symptoms of COVID-19 throughout this time.
“At the time we began this study, we knew little about the duration of the virus’s spread,” said senior author and virologist Vincent Munster. As the coronavirus continues to spread, more and more people with a range of immunosuppressive diseases will become infected, and it is important for us to understand how SARS-CoV-2 behaves in such cases. ”
Scientists found that the patient tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, after she was hospitalized with severe anemia. Along with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the patient also suffered from hypogammaglobulinemia, a condition that weakens the immune system.
“We expected this to happen, but no such incidents have been reported before,” adds Munster.
In the study, the researchers concluded that the 71-year-old woman remained infectious for so long due to her weakened immune system. Due to concomitant diseases, the patient’s body could not properly respond to the virus.
The researchers note that she was once treated with convalescent plasma, but Münster says the therapy was ineffective due to the absence of antibodies in the 71-year-old woman. Even though the virus was in the body for more than three months, the study showed that the patient did not develop COVID-19.
“We have seen similar cases of influenza and respiratory syndrome in the Middle East, which was also caused by the coronavirus,” the scientist concludes.