Last summer, a UK man in his 70s was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge with COVID-19 pneumonia. He hadn’t been able to shake his illness since testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 more than a month earlier. Despite interventions including multiple rounds of the antiviral remdesivir and convalescent plasma, he died in the hospital’s intensive care unit about 9 weeks after his arrival.
Throughout his hospitalization, the patient continued to test positive with a high viral load. This, along with his worsening illness, indicated that he was battling an ongoing infection with live, replicating virus for more than 100 days.
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His body wasn’t equipped for the task. Back in 2012 he had been diagnosed with marginal B-cell lymphoma. The blood cancer, along with the treatment he received for it, had wiped out his B and T cells—both arms of his adaptive immune response—leaving him severely immunocompromised.
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