A new study that has been published in the journal Cell indicates that a 71 year old patient in one of the hospital diagnosed with coronavirus in Kirkland, Washington, who is also suffering from leukemia, released the infectious particles of the coronavirus without even showing any symptoms of the disease for at least 70 days.
According to the shared details, the patient continued to shed infectious particles of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, 70 days after her diagnosis. More than 100 days after her initial diagnosis, the woman was still testing positive for coronavirus, which indicates that her body still contained trace amounts of genetic material from the novel coronavirus.
“We think that at least up to day 70, this patient would have been able to spread the virus to others,” Vincent Munster, a virologist at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who was a part of the study, informed.
“This was something that we anticipated might happen, but it had never been reported before,” Munster added.
The researchers came to their conclusions by studying samples gathered from the patient’s upper respiratory tract. As per the study, the patient’s 70-day period of infectiousness is the longest span of infectious shedding yet seen in an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient.
The longest-known infectious shedding span for a symptomatic person is 61 days.
Researchers believe that the woman remained infectious for so long because her weakened immune system was unable to generate a substantial amount of antibodies to fight the virus. In fact, blood tests indicated that the patient’s body was never able to make such antibodies.
At one point, she was treated with convalescent plasma, a technique in which doctors isolate antibodies in the plasma of survivors of the novel coronavirus and inject those antibodies into sick patients. Plasma is the liquid component of blood.
However, the treatment did not have an effect on the patient owing to her low concentration of antibodies. Despite this, she never showed any symptoms of COVID-19.