Scientists discover Covid can remain in patients’ bodies for more than a year

By Staff

Scientists have discovered that parts of the Covid-19 virus can remain in patients’ bodies for two years after infection. The discovery was made by researchers at the University of California San Francisco who are studying the causes of long Covid.

The researchers tested the blood of 171 former Covid patients and found pieces of the virus, called antigens, in up to 14 per cent of the samples. The scientists said the pieces could remain in the tissue for up to 14 months after infection.

The likelihood of detection was twice as high for those who had been hospitalised when infected, according to the study. Despite the presence of the virus, researchers said the patients were no longer infectious as it was not found in the respiratory tract, reports the Irish Star.

READ MORE: New interactive map shows latest Covid case rates across London

“These studies provide some of the strongest evidence so far that Covid antigens can persist in some people, even though we think they have normal immune responses,” said Dr Michael Peluso, who led the study. “As a clinician, these associations convince me that we are on to something, because it makes sense that someone who had been sicker with Covid would have more antigen that can stick around.”

The scientists found the virus in the tissue where our immune cells live. This might be why the body starts to fight itself. In some tests, they saw the virus could still be active without making people sick again.

They’re not sure if these bits of the virus are causing long Covid, which affects more than 6 out of every 100 adults in the US. But they’re planning new tests to see if special medicines or virus-fighting drugs can get rid of the virus and help people with long Covid feel better. Dr Peluso said: “There is a lot more work to be done, but I feel like we are making progress in really understanding the long-term consequences of this infection.”

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