COVID-19 has turned devastating with the gradual mutation of the virus. A recent study in South Africa discovered potentially dangerous changes in the virus in a 36-year-old woman with advanced HIV. The woman was infected for 216 days and during this period, the virus accumulated more than 30 mutations.
The report, still to be reviewed by peers, was published on Thursday, June 3.
According to the researchers, the woman's immune system had been weakened over time due to HIV. She had contracted COVID in September 2020. Over time, the virus had accumulated 13 mutations to the spike protein which helps the virus evade the immune response, and 19 others, which might affect its behavior.
However, it is unclear if the mutations found in the woman's body were passed on to others, reported Hindustan Times.
Because of the immunity-related complication, a person with HIV is 2.75 times more likely to die when infected with the coronavirus than someone without co-morbidities. The woman in the case study was immunosuppressed.
Despite this, a review of South African data conducted by the Western Cape Department of Health, last year, revealed that HIV had a lower impact on mortality than predicted and was significantly below that of other co-morbidities such as diabetes, but it was greater than tuberculosis.
In South Africa, 7.8 million individuals are afflicted with HIV, which causes AIDS, and 300,000 individuals have tuberculosis.