Coronavirus Mutated 32 Times Inside South African HIV-Positive Woman Over Course of Seven Months

Scientists only spotted the woman’s case because she was enrolled in a study on people with HIV looking at their immune response to Covid-19. File photo: AP
Scientists only spotted the woman’s case because she was enrolled in a study on people with HIV looking at their immune response to Covid-19. File photo: AP

A 36-year-old woman with advanced HIV carried the novel coronavirus for 216 days, during which the virus accumulated more than 30 mutations, a new study has found.

The case report, which has not been peer-reviewed, was published as a preprint on medRxiv on Thursday. The woman, who has not been named, was identified as a 36-year-old living in South Africa.

The coronaviruses gathered 13 mutations to the spike protein, which is known to help the virus escape the immune response, and 19 other mutations that could change the behaviour of the virus.

It is not clear whether the mutations she carried were passed on to others, the Los Angeles Times reported.

If more such cases are found, it raises the prospect that HIV infection could be a source of new variants simply because the patients could carry the virus for longer, Tulio de Oliveira, a geneticist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban and the study’s author, told the Times.

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Source: South China Morning Post