COVID: This is the record for the longest coronavirus infection ever

A patient in the UK is said to be the person with the longest active infection of the coronavirus ever to have been documented.

Doctors in the UK believe to have found the person who battled the disease the longest since the emergence of the coronavirus in early 2020.

Detectable levels of COVID for 505 days

Not to be mistaken for long COVID symptoms, the patient in question, had detectable levels of the virus for a total of 505 days. For roughly 16 months, the unnamed man who had a weakened immune system, was in and out of the hospital and ultimately succumbed to COVID despite having been administered antiviral medication.

The man had first contracted the disease back in early 2020—at the onset of the pandemic—and tested positive for the coronavirus a total of 50 times in the 72 weeks of his infection. Dr Luke Blagdon Snell, one of the medics who will be presenting the findings, explained:

These were throat swab tests that were positive each time. The patient never had a negative test. And we can tell it was one continuous infection because the genetic signature of it - the information we got from sequencing the viral genome - was unique and constant in that patient.

Why it's important to study these cases

He also went on to explain that cases like these, where an infection can persist for unusual amounts of time, must be carefully studied to improve the understanding of the disease. He said:

The virus is still adapting to the human host when people are infected for a long time. It might provide an opportunity for Covid to accrue new mutations.

And added:

Some of these patients that we have studied have mutations that have been seen in some of the variants of concern.

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