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New strain may incubate in patients with prolonged coronavirus infection: Study

Out of the millions of cases around the world, one coronavirus case has stood out. The case is of a 45-year-old Covid-19 patient from Boston who died last summer after fighting for 154 days of illness--one of the longest on record

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | February 4, 2021 | Updated 13:12 IST
New strain may incubate in patients with prolonged coronavirus infection: Study

Out of the millions of cases around the world, one coronavirus case has stood out. The case is of a 45-year-old Covid-19 patient from Boston who died last summer after fighting for 154 days of illness--one of the longest on record.

According to a report by the LA Times, the Boston patient's case offered one of the first sightings of key mutations in the coronavirus' protein spike -- even before it was found in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil.

Therefore, the Boston patient is being looked as the harbinger of the virus' ability to mutate into a more dangerous version of itself. Though he died last summer, the scientists are studying his medical records to understand the emergence of the new and dangerous strain of COVID-19.

Experts have projected the emergence of new Covid-19 strain by focusing on the role of patients with compromised immune systems who battle the virus for months. According to the experts, people who have battled longer from coronavirus, appear to play a key role in incubating new variants of Covid-19.

Dr Jonathan Z. Li, who was involved in the treatment of the Boston patient said, "The mutation that rose from this single patient is a microcosm of viral evolution, we are seeing globally".

The Boston's patient's prolonged illness helped the SARS-Cov-2 virus to copy itself millions of times. As it kept mutating, no medications worked on him, the doctor added.

The Boston patient tested positive for SARS-CoV2 infections four separate times over 22 weeks. He was admitted to the hospital six times. He was treated with three courses of the antiviral medication remdesivir and once with regeneron.

The doctors first noticed the transformation in the virus in the Boston patient when he was admitted to the hospital second time. The doctors found 11 letters in the coronavirus' 30,000-letter sequence had flipped when they took his swab samples a second time.

His third trip to the hospital landed him in the ICU. In the third swab test, 10 more letters in the virus' genetic code had changed in a period of just five weeks.

The Boston patient has shown that longer stay of the coronavirus inside a human can be dangerous. In his case, the genetic code that were most prone to change affected structures that COVID-19 vaccines and drugs are designed to recognise.

Since a vaccine against Covid-19 is designed to identify the virus through its spike protein, any changes in it can undermine the value of those remedies.

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