A Turkish man with leukemia has defied the odds by testing positive for Covid 78 times in a row over 14 months, considered a world record for active Covid-19 infection.
Muzaffer Kayasan, 56, has spent 441 days in isolation from his family, including his granddaughter Azra, who stays in the garden visiting his Istanbul apartment.
Usually people with Covid symptoms can test negative after about five days, but Kayasan spent 14 months testing positive.
Doctors believe that he continually tests positive for the virus due to a weakened immune system due to the cancer.
Although he has been in and out of the hospital since November 2020, Kayasan’s spirits remain upbeat and he continues to battle Covid infection at the same time he battles leukemia.
“I think it’s the female version of Covid – she was obsessed with me,” Kayasan joked last week when he found out his latest PCR test came back positive.
Muzaffer Kayasan, who suffers from leukemia, defied the odds by testing positive for Covid 78 times in a row over 14 months, considered a world record for active Covid-19 infection.
Muzaffer Kayasan, 56, has spent 441 days in isolation from his family, including his granddaughter Azra (pictured together), who stays in the garden during the visit.
Katasan awaits a visit from his son Gokhan and granddaughter Azra at his home in Istanbul, Turkey.
Kayasan, who has lived alone in his apartment for months, is often visited by his family, whom he talks to through the glass back door.
“I will play with you when I get well,” Muzaffer told his granddaughter Azra through the mask, giving her a plastic toy phone.
Immunosuppressed coronavirus patients are at risk for long-term infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome, according to a study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Another study by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society shows that one in four blood cancer patients do not develop detectable antibodies, even after receiving two shots.
Usually, people infected with Covid stop showing symptoms after a few days, and tests come back negative for up to 10 days.
In cases of long-term Covid, people who stop testing positive may continue to have symptoms, including brain fog and insomnia, after the infection clears up for weeks or months.
Kayasan’s doctor, Serap Simsek Yavuz, a professor of infectious diseases and clinical microbiology at Istanbul University, said this is the longest case they’ve tracked and is being monitored closely for any risk of a mutated variant.
Kayasan, who has lived alone in his apartment for months, receives frequent visits from his family, whom he talks to through the glass back door.
Kayasan prepares food at home after testing positive for Covid again
“Until today, no case of a patient testing positive for 441 days has been reported,” said Chagri Bouquet, Doctor of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology at Acibadem Hospital.
Positive tests make Kayasan ineligible for vaccination, according to Turkish guidelines, which say that positive patients must wait until they are fully recovered in order to be vaccinated.
Kayasan, who lost his sense of smell and taste as a result of the tests, appealed to the authorities with a request to at least ease his imprisonment.
His son, Gokhan Kayasan, said that his father was always a “positive” person, but not like that.
“We kept talking about how positive he is and now this guy has gone positive (on COVID) and can’t go back to being negative,” he said. He says he got stuck at a red light and can’t get through.
Kayasan is believed to have recorded the world’s longest-running case of the virus, taking the unwelcome position of British cancer patient Dave Smith.
Gohan and Azra, Muzaffer Kayasan’s son and granddaughter, arrive to meet him in their backyard in Istanbul.
Kayasan uses eye drops while relaxing in his bed at his home in Istanbul on February 10.
Smith, from Bristol, UK, tested positive for the virus within 305 days – more than 10 months – but has since recovered.
Several people have spent extended periods of time in the hospital after being hospitalized with Covid, but this does not necessarily mean that they will test positive throughout their stay.
However, Mr. Smith has consistently been confirmed to have the virus for 305 days after he first went to the hospital in May 2020 with a cough and fever.
He said: “I was ready to give up, I said to Lin, my wife:” Let me go, I’m holding on, everything is so bad now, I’m just jelly. If I go at night, don’t be surprised.
His wife Linda said that “many times we didn’t think he would survive”.
But more than 10 months after his first positive PCR result, Smith and his wife were able to celebrate the news that he tested negative for Covid with a bottle of champagne.
Mr. Smith had medical conditions that compromised his immune system, putting him at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.
Dave Smith from Bristol has been ill with the virus for over 10 months, which experts say is the longest persistent Covid infection ever recorded.
He told The Guardian: “Whenever I got bad, I got really bad – to the point of death. My wife started arranging funerals five times.”
He added jokingly, “I called the whole family together to make amends with them. I wish I’d kept my mouth shut right now.
Mr Smith said his weight dropped from 18.5 stone to 10 stone during his illness due to lack of appetite, adding: “At one point I was bedridden for two or three months.
“My wife had to wash and shave me in bed because I just couldn’t get up. Sometimes I thought: I wish they took me in the middle of the night, because I just can’t take it anymore.
“You get to the point where you’re more afraid of living than dying.”
Scientists from the University of Bristol, NHS Trust North Bristol and Public Health England said Mr Smith was admitted to hospital in May 2020 with a cough and fever. The PCR test confirmed that he had Covid-19.
He was discharged eight days later, but had “significant dyspnea and continued intermittent fever-related acute aggravations” requiring further hospitalization in August, September, October and December.
Experts noted that in December 2020, a trial of daily remdesivir therapy was terminated after 17 days due to lack of effect.
He later received treatment with the monoclonal antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab. According to the University of Bristol, Mr. Smith was successfully treated with antibodies created in the lab.
He added that his health improved dramatically and the virus was not detected in PCR tests 45 days after the combination treatment.
Pharmaceutical firm Regeneron’s combination of antibodies has since been shown to save the lives of some of the sickest Covid-19 patients in clinical trials, but the treatment regimen has yet to be approved for use in the UK.
Smith no longer tests positive about 305 days after the first infection, scientists say.
They said he was reporting symptoms six weeks before his first test, so they suspect the infection actually lasted longer, meaning he could have consistently tested positive for the virus for almost a year.
Mr. Smith had a history of a condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which meant he had a lung disease that causes inflammation of the lung tissue, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a type of cancer that attacks white blood cells and tends to progress slowly over many years.