Chinese researchers have warned a new mutated sub-type of COVID-19 which has a prolonged ability to infect others may have occurred after seeing a case where the disease appeared to be “chronic”.
Media reports say that Chinese military researchers found a case of a middle-aged man had the disease for 49 days, with a high viral load of COVID-19, which is usually seen in severe cases.
However, the man’s symptoms were light and the researchers said he appeared to have formed a “dynamic balance” with the virus.
However, as he seemingly could not fight off the disease himself, he needed to be treated with a plasma transfusion from other COVID-19 sufferers who had recovered in order to gain immunity.
Previous research showed that patients who survived the virus normally tested negative after 20 days on average, with the longest case at 37 days, with longer cases usually being more severe cases.
However, the Chinese patient, who has not been named, did not present many symptoms of the virus at all, with some infected lesions to his lungs which disappeared shortly after he was taken to hospital.
The researchers said the case might be a “chronic infected case” with no transfusion treatment.
The researchers from the Army Medical University in Chongqing, No 967 Hospital of PLA, Dalian, and General Hospital of the PLA Central Theatre Command in Wuhan said that the virus may have formed a symbiotic relationship with its host.
Reports state one of the patient’s elderly female relatives also tested positive for COVID-19, with moderate symptoms. Despite having pre-existing conditions she reportedly recovered quicker recovery than average for her age.
The researchers said that this information could point towards a new mild sub-type of COVID-19 with lower toxicity and not as transmissible but which would be harder to eliminate.
They warned that other “chronic” patients who maybe would not be treated because of their mild symptoms could continue to spread the infection and cause a fresh outbreak.
The case has featured in prominent Chinese media outlets and in international titles including the South China Morning Post.
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