Months after his death, one extraordinary patient in Boston may offer important clues about how coronavirus variants emerge.
The immunocompromised patient held onto the same coronavirus infection for 154 days. When doctors sequenced virus samples extracted from the patient, they were “shocked” to find the virus had picked up more than 20 mutations while inside his body, NPR Goats and Soda reports.
Turns out, this patient’s cluster of mutations is remarkably similar to those found in the new variants that have since emerged in the UK and South Africa.
A flurry of new research: Scientists are looking into whether “recombination” may be allowing multiple variants to combine within the human body to form dangerous new versions of the virus, The New York Times reports.
While such an occurrence is considered quite rare, “the new variants of concern have taught us that rare events can still have a big impact,” said evolutionary epidemiologist Katrina Lythgoe.
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