A 45-year-old man in Boston suffered from COVID-19 infection for 154 days as the virus mutated nearly 20 times before his death.
The researchers said that the virus mutated several times inside his body, and the man suffered from the antiphospholipid syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that caused his immune system to attack normal proteins in the blood that prevent clotting. Jonathan Li, an infectious disease doctor at Harvard Medical School who helped treat the man, said that the man's immune system wasn’t strong enough to eradicate the virus. It essentially forced the virus to mutate and change.
NPR quoted doctor Li stating that “This man had a severe autoimmune disease that required him to take drugs to suppress his immune system. So his body couldn't fight off the coronavirus infection as well as a healthy person could. He would get better for a while, and then the virus would counterattack. He would fall sick again. Eventually, he ended up in the intensive care unit. He passed away five months after the initial diagnosis”.
Li and his colleagues extracted the COVID-19 virus from his body throughout the man’s infection. The sequences extracted by the team indicated that the virus mutated nearly 20 times, which was unusual. Scientists pointed out that mutations had helped the virus to bypass detection by antibodies. The 20 mutations in the man’s body included the mutation (N501Y) known to help the virus bind more tightly to human cells and another mutation (E484K) known to help the virus evade antibody detection. Scientists imply that the new variants occurred in persons whose immunity is compromised and suffer from chronic conditions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.