Maryland woman tested positive for Covid for 335 days

The woman had been immunocompromised after cancer treatment years earlier

Helen Elfer
Wednesday 20 October 2021 16:35
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A cancer survivor was found to have been infected with Covid for at least 335 days in the longest ever documented case, according to a study.

The 47-year old woman, who has not been named, was hospitalised with Covid in Maryland, in the spring of 2020.

After 10 months of only experiencing mild or no symptoms, doctors found that she was still testing positive for the virus, reports Business Insider.

The woman had been immunocompromised after a successful blood cancer treatment for lymphoma three years earlier, which left her with low levels of B cells, which produce antibodies, according to the study published on Medrxiv.

She continued testing positive for the coronavirus, and in March, her viral load rose again. Doctors found that she was carrying a strain similar to that of 10 months earlier and unlike any other strain circulating in the general population at the time.

Her doctor, Veronique Nussenblatt, an infectious disease specialist at the National Institutes of Health told Science News the case had been baffling. “Sometimes she felt better, sometimes she felt worse,” Dr Nussenblatt said, adding she had not seen anything quite like it before.

“I’ve never heard of a transplant patient with flu for a year,” she said. “That’s a really long time.”

The woman received further treatment and finally got rid of the infection in April, 335 days after she was first tested. She has since had multiple negative Covid tests.

Dr Nussenblatt Facetimed her patient in early summer, and reported that with her long Covid ordeal finally behind her, “she was walking on the beach”, with no oxygen tube in sight.

The study provided scientists with valuable information about Covid in people with a weakened immune system, reported Business Insider.

Immunocompromised people are less likely to be able to fight off Covid when fully vaccinated, so are vulnerable to infection.

In August, US regulatory agencies approved a third dose of vaccine for immunocompromised people in the hope it would help boost protection against the virus for them.

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