In a startling revelation, a study has found that a COVID-positive woman carried the coronavirus for over seven months!
The study, published in medRxiv, said that a 36-year-old woman in South Africa who was HIV-positive contracted COVID-19 last year. The SARS-CoV-2 virus stayed in her body for 216 days and mutated 32 times.
As per the study, 13 mutations took place in the coronavirus’ spike protein which helps the virus beat human body’s immune response, while the other 19 mutations were linked to the behaviour of the contagion.
It was not clear whether the virus had been transmitted to others from the woman.
Scientists are suspecting that if this behaviour of the virus is established in other patients as well, then it could be possible that HIV infection is creating more variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Tulio de Oliveira, a geneticist at University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban and the study’s author, was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times that HIV could be allowing the coronavirus to stay alive in the body for longer than usual.
Dr Juan Ambrosini, associate professor of infectious diseases at University of Barcelona, told South China Morning Post that such patients could turn out to be a continuous source of transmission and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The woman had enrolled for a study on 300 HIV-positive people who had contracted COVID-19.
Four other HIV-positive patients were found to have carried the coronavirus for over a month.