Why the most unusual Covid cases matter – .

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Why the most unusual Covid cases matter – .


Ultimately, drug companies took note and developed new drugs targeting the same pathway as this gene that can be used to lower cholesterol even in people without mutations. The first of these drugs was approved in 2015.

Outliers may appear to be lonely cases, but in this pandemic, they are often indicators. In February 2020, just as the pandemic was starting to accelerate, a 71-year-old woman who was immunocompromised by some kind of cancer that limited her ability to produce antibodies was infected with the coronavirus in a nursing home in Washington. When scientists reported that she had tested positive for the coronavirus for at least 105 days and was infectious for at least 70 days, it seemed like an extraordinary case. But since then there have been numerous cases of immunocompromised people harboring the virus for months.

This, say the authors of a study (which has yet to be peer reviewed) of another immunocompromised man who tested positive for more than 300 days until he was treated with medication. based on antibodies, proves that the branch of the immune system that makes antibodies is critical in the fight against Covid-19.

Scientists have also learned that the long-lasting infections seen in some patients with weakened immune systems provide an opportunity for the virus to evolve, likely contributing to the emergence of new variants.

There have been cases of fully vaccinated people who are healthy and young but still contract the virus in what are called “breakthrough infections”. These cases are also outliers, although expected, because the vaccines are great but do not protect 100%. Identifying these people and studying their immune response could provide a window into what makes infections possible after vaccination.

Immunity information gleaned from Covid-19 outliers could also help scientists develop treatments and vaccines for other diseases. For example, a lack of protection against vaccination is not a problem only for Covid-19.

Brianne Barker, a professor at Drew University in New Jersey who teaches virology and immunology, says some people who get the hepatitis B vaccine, for example, don’t seem to make antibodies from it. this. “If we could understand why they are not responding, it could really help us understand the factors that enable immune memory and vaccine protection,” said Dr Barker. Learning which parts of the body tend to weaken immune responses could also help scientists design treatments for autoimmune diseases.

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