A new study, published as a preprint on medRxiv, details the case of a woman with HIV who had the coronavirus for 216 days. The research revealed that the virus mutated more than 30 times inside her, even changing into the more concerning variants.
Amongst other variants, the woman was reported to have had the E484K mutation, which is part of the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7, which was first seen in the UK) and the N510Y mutation, which is part of the Beta variant (B.1.351, which was first seen in South Africa). In total, the virus was reported to have undergone 13 mutations to the spike protein and 19 others that could change its behavior.
The research has yet to be peer-reviewed and it is still unclear whether the patient passed on any of the mutations to others. The woman was enrolled in a study of 300 people with HIV that looked at their immune response to COVID-19 and that is how her case was discovered.
Having COVID-19 for a year
Dr. Juan Ambrosini, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Barcelona, told Insider that other patients who have been immunosuppressed have been seen to carry the coronavirus for prolonged periods of time as well. For example, people with kidney transplants have been found to test positive for almost a year.
The patient was not named but was revealed to be a 36-year-old woman living in South Africa. She was also reported to only have displayed mild symptoms of COVID-19 which means her case could have easily gone unnoticed.
The study is crucial to understanding how HIV affects the coronavirus strains.
In related news, according to a new study by France’s Pasteur Institute, the Pfizer vaccine was found last week to be less effective but still protect against B.1.617 (which was first seen in India).
“Despite slightly diminished efficacy, the Pfizer vaccine probably protects” against the Indian variant, according to laboratory test results, said Olivier Schwartz, the institute’s director and co-author of the study that was published on the BioRxiv website. The research is still waiting for peer review.