A woman diagnosed with advanced HIV and infected with the coronavirus carried the infectious agent for 216 days, during which it mutated 32 times over the course of seven months.
The 36-year-old South African had 13 mutations to the spike protein, which evade immunity, and 19 that could alter the behaviour of the virus.
This raises the possibility that HIV could give rise to new coronavirus variants due to the mere fact that HIV patients could carry the coronavirus for a long period of time.
This study, which is not peer-reviewed, was conducted by Tulio de Oliveira, who is a geneticist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.
According to Dr Juan Ambrosini, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Barcelona, such cases are rare and limited to those who are severely immunocompromised, as the woman in this case study was.
Nevertheless, this is an important find, according to Dr Ambrosini, solely due to the fact that people who are immunosuppressed could be continual sources of coronavirus mutations due to their ability to carry the virus for longer periods of time.