MOSCOW, January 12. /TASS/. A propensity of the coronavirus to mutate in case of a weakened immunity may lead to an emergence of hundreds of new mutations of the virus in a single body which do not increase death risks for a patient but may be more contagious or resistant to treatment, Director of Kazan Federal University’s Research Clinical Center for Precision and Regenerative Medicine Albert Rizvanov told TASS on Tuesday.
Earlier, the media reported of a Russian patient with a malignant lymphoma who had the coronavirus infection for a long time. Some 18 versions of the virus were detected in her system. The scientist noted that mutations in the body of a carrier are normal for all viruses. This process occurs due to flaws in its genetic apparatus: when self-replicating, the virus makes mistakes which result in slight changes in the genetic code of its copies.
"If the virus remains in the system for a sufficient amount of time, a kind of filtration occurs: the variants that are best adapted for remaining in human body are selected. Yet at the same time, as a rule, its lethality gradually decreases and transmissibility and resistance to treatment may increase since the goal of the viruses is to increase the transmission rate while the carrier remains alive. <…> Thus, in any person hundreds of various mutations of different viruses may be detected, including the coronavirus," the scientist who heads a research group of developers of a test system and a vaccine against the coronavirus said.
He also noted that people with cancer as well as with other chronic diseases are in the risk group for SARS-CoV-2 since their immune system is weakened.
"In any person with a lowered immunity the infection can run its course for a longer time. This may explain why the patient had the coronavirus infection for so long (from April to September - TASS). <…> Already now there are published works that demonstrate that people who undergo chemotherapy have a lowered immunity and they have the coronavirus infection for a longer time. <…> They also are more likely to become sources of new strains of the coronavirus," the scientist added.