Rxivist logo

There is widespread interest in the capacity for SARS-CoV-2 evolution in the face of selective pressures from host immunity, either naturally acquired post-exposure or from vaccine acquired immunity. Allied to this is the potential for long perm persistent infections within immune compromised individuals to allow a broader range of viral evolution in the face of sub-optimal immune driven selective pressure. Here we report on an immunocompromised individual who is hypogammaglobulinaemic and was persistently infected with SARS-CoV-2 for over 290 days, the longest persistent infection recorded in the literature to date. During this time, nine samples of viral nucleic acid were obtained and analysed by next-generation sequencing. Initially only a single mutation (L179I) was detected in the spike protein relative to the prototypic SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan-Hu-1 isolate, with no further changes identified at day 58. However, by day 155 the spike protein had acquired a further four amino acid changes, namely S255F, S477N, H655Y and D1620A and a two amino acid deletion ({Delta}H69/{Delta}V70). Infectious virus was cultured from a nasopharyngeal sample taken on day 155 and next-generation sequencing confirmed that the mutations in the virus mirrored those identified by sequencing of the corresponding swab sample. The isolated virus was susceptible to remdesivir in vitro, however a 17-day course of remdesivir started on day 213 had no effect on the viral RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) value. On day 265 the patient was treated with the combination of casirivimab and imdevimab. The patient experienced progressive resolution of all symptoms over the next 8 weeks and by day 311 the virus was no longer detectable by RT-PCR. The {Delta}H69/{Delta}V70 deletion in the N-terminus of the spike protein which arose in our patient is also present in the B.1.1.7 variant of concern and has been associated with viral escape mutagenesis after treatment of another immunocompromised patient with convalescent plasma. Our data confirms the significance of this deletion in immunocompromised patients but illustrates it can arise independently of passive antibody transfer, suggesting the deletion may be an enabling mutation that compensates for distant changes in the spike protein that arise under selective pressure.

Download data

  • Downloaded 2,161 times
  • Download rankings, all-time:
    • Site-wide: 8,425
    • In infectious diseases: 1,302
  • Year to date:
    • Site-wide: 1,513
  • Since beginning of last month:
    • Site-wide: 6,582

Altmetric data

Downloads over time

Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide