A man who remained positive for Covid for 600 days has died. How is it possible ?

A man who remained positive for Covid for 600 days has died.  How is it possible ?

A man infected with Covid-19 remained ill for almost twenty months before dying suddenly. How can we explain such persistence of the virus? Dr Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens, enlightens us.

The number seems hard to believe, and yet: a man, whose immune system was weakened, remained infected with Covid-19… for 613 days. The American magazine Time details the exceptionally rare case of this man, aged 72.

More than 50 virus mutations

While he had been vaccinated several times against the Covid-19 virus, the researchers explain that the man incubated a new mutant strain (the Omicron variant) for 613 days before succumbing to an underlying illness. In total, the septuagenarian “underwent” more than 50 mutations of the virus; which shows its ability to escape the body's immune defenses.

A detailed analysis of samples collected from more than two dozen nose and throat swabs showed that the coronavirus developed resistance to sotrovimab, an antibody treatment against Covid-19, within weeks. explain scientists from the Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine at the University of Amsterdam.

Still according to the researchers, this infection, which lasted almost twenty months, is the longest known to date.

However, the patient had a blood disorder and was immunocompromised (so his body was never able to produce enough antibodies to get rid of the virus); which could largely explain the cause of his death.

This case highlights the risk of persistent SARS-CoV-2 infections in immunocompromised individuals“, assure the authors on this subject.”We highlight the importance of continued genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 evolution in immunocompromised individuals with persistent infections.”

Dr Kierzek: “It’s not the virus that’s the problem, but the patient’s general condition”

If the case of this patient seems disconcerting, Dr. Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens, is not surprised.

The virus may persist in many people who have weak immune systems. But they are not necessarily going to die from Covid-19, in fact the man cited in this study would perhaps even have died without having contracted the virus. You can carry the virus, present mutations, without it being a cause for concern. It is the patient's general condition that poses a problem, the virus will only aggravate the underlying pathology“, he explains.

Ultimately, it is vulnerable people (elderly, immunocompromised, etc.) who must be particularly vigilant in the face of the coronavirus, because they are “at risk“, recalls Dr Gérald Kierzek in conclusion.

To go further, find the list of people at risk of developing a serious form of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the government Public Health website.