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This woman spread coronavirus for at least 70 days without knowing she had it

A leukemia patient shed infection of COVID-19 for at least 70 days.

This is a scanning electron microscopy image of SARS-CoV-2 obtained from immuno-compromised patient’s nasopharyngeal swab and cultured with VERO-E6 cells.
This is a scanning electron microscopy image of SARS-CoV-2 obtained from immuno-compromised patient’s nasopharyngeal swab and cultured with VERO-E6 cells.
NIAID-RML

A leukemia patient reportedly shed infectious SARS-CoV-2 for at least 70 days — almost 10 times as long as the typical patient, who sheds the virus for eight days, according to a new study.

What’s going on?

Researchers recently wrote in the journal Cell that there is one woman who had leukemia and spread the coronavirus for at least 70 days after she was infected.

  • Interestingly, the woman, age 71, who had a low antibody count due to the leukemia, survived the virus for at least 70 days.
  • She remained asymptomatic the entire time.
  • The researchers “believe the patient remained infectious for so long because her compromised immune system never allowed her to mount a response,” according to a press release on the study.

Why it matters:

Senior author Vincent Munster, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a release on the study aimed to understand how people shed the coronavirus.

  • “At the time we started this study, we really didn’t know much about the duration of virus shedding,” he said. “As this virus continues to spread, more people with a range of immunosuppressing disorders will become infected, and it’s important to understand how SARS-CoV-2 behaves in these populations.”