He was corona positive for 613 days without interruption, then he died. Researchers from the Netherlands report on the extremely long corona infection and warn of the emergence of more dangerous variants. The older man, who was immunocompromised due to previous illnesses, was admitted to a clinic in Amsterdam in February 2022 with a Sars-CoV-2 infection, it said in a statement. Until his death in October 2023, he was continuously corona positive – for a total of more than 600 days. Other cases of very long infections had previously been reported in people whose immune systems were unable to adequately fight the virus.

The researchers led by Magda Vergouwe from the University of Amsterdam want to present the results at a congress of the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona at the end of April. The case is also interesting for researchers because the coronavirus can change particularly significantly in such long-term infected people. This poses the risk of variants of the virus emerging that the immune systems of healthy people can overcome more easily.

The researchers in the Netherlands repeatedly took samples from the man to examine the genetic material of the coronavirus. They found a total of more than 50 mutations compared to the omicron variant BA.1 that was circulating at the time, including those that allow the virus to evade the immune system. Just 21 days after the man received a certain corona drug, the virus also developed resistance to it. The man ultimately died due to a relapse of one of his previous illnesses. As far as is known, he did not infect anyone with his mutated version of the coronavirus.

“This case highlights the risk posed by ongoing Sars-CoV-2 infections in immunocompromised people,” the researchers are quoted in the statement. As the virus develops extensively in a single patient, unique variants could emerge. It is important to closely monitor the evolution of the coronavirus in immunocompromised people. There is a risk that variants will emerge and spread through society that are less likely to affect the immune systems of healthy people.