Now that’s long COVID.
A British man has finally been cured of COVID-19 after being infected for a staggering 411 days, the longest recorded in a survivor, according to his doctors.
The unidentified 59-year-old kidney transplant patient was first infected in December 2020 — and regularly tested positive until January this year, according to a study in the journal “Clinical Infectious Diseases.“
His doctors believe he was infected throughout the full 13-month period, even though he had three vaccines.
Researcher Luke Snell, an infectious disease expert at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, said that the only known longer-lasting infection — 505 days — was in someone who died.
The latest case “is definitely the longest that we’ve come across” in a survivor, Snell told The Telegraph.
“It’s difficult to know for sure, but it’s certainly the longest that we’ve seen,” he said.
Despite the length of his infection, the patient had persistent COVID, which is different than what is typically termed long COVID, where sufferers continue being negatively impacted while no longer infected.
Such cases occur in a small number of patients with already weakened immune systems, including the anonymous Brit who first tested positive after getting a new kidney.
These patients can test positive for months or even years with the infection “rumbling along the whole time,” Snell told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The infections can pose a serious threat because around half of patients also have persistent symptoms such as lung inflammation, he said.
Although the patient was never hospitalized for the disease, he repeatedly tested positive for COVID during his outpatient appointments needed to monitor his kidney transplant, the study said.
When Snell’s team finally started treating him, they also undertook a complex genetic analysis that showed he had one of the initial variants, one long since replaced by other mutations.
That helped “prove that he had a persistent infection,” Snell told The Telegraph.
Luckily, it also meant his infection was treatable with the Regeneron cocktail of antibodies, which the newer strains appear to be “resistant to,” Snell said told the UK paper.
“We advised treatment and he cleared it,” he said, confirming the patient has since been testing negative.
“It was quite fortuitous for him that he had an early variant that the drugs would work against.”