A 37-yr-old UK man with a weak immune system is reportedly the first in the world to be cured of Covid-19 with vaccination, after testing positive for the virus for about eight months, media reports said.
Ian Lester, from Wales, who has a rare genetic immunodeficiency, got infected in December 2020, before vaccinations were widely available, Daily Mail reported.
During his seven-and-a-half-month illness, Lester, who works as an optician, suffered chest tightness, headaches, and extreme fatigue. He wasn’t able to get vaccinated when immunocompromised people were invited to get the jab because he was still testing positive for the virus.
But scientists at Cardiff University in the UK, decided to give him two doses of Pfizer’s jab, one month apart, in the hope it would work as a therapeutic and help his immune system finally clear the virus.
The results showed levels of the virus plunged 64-fold within a fortnight of the first jab, showing how quickly the vaccine had an effect.
The scientists said that the doses “very quickly” triggered a strong T-cell response that was “much stronger” than that triggered naturally.
Lester was eventually declared Covid-free in August, 218 days after it was first detected, and 72 days after getting his first vaccine, the report said.
The case report, detailed in the Journal of Clinical Immunology, is thought to be the first time a vaccine has been used as a treatment for Covid. The current jabs are used to prevent people who are not infected from becoming seriously unwell if they catch it.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time mRNA vaccination has been used to clear persistent Covid infection,” Dr Mark Ponsford, from the University’s School of Medicine and one of the doctors who treated Lester, was quoted as saying.
He said the negative test was “a pretty astonishing momenta, and added that the vaccine was “remarkably” well-tolerated by Lester who previously had a limited response to conventional jabs, the report said.
Scientists explained that the results suggest that Covid jabs can kick-start the immune system of immunosuppressed people with ‘persistent’ infections, which can leave them battling illnesses for decades in rare cases.
Lester suffers from Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome – a rare genetic disorder which prevents him from being able to form blood clots. Sufferers are more susceptible to infections, and can bruise and bleed easier.
“Although most people are able to stop isolating after 10 days of contracting the virus, I was an exception to the rule. Each test came back positive, time and time again,” Lester was quoted as saying.
“Months passed, which felt like a lifetime when you’re not able to go anywhere or see friends or family. Each positive Covid swab (taken every 10-14 days) left me feeling more deflated and anxious. I began to feel like I was a prisoner in my own home and the days blurred into months.
“By June 2021, when social gatherings were being allowed again, I was feeling very frustrated and started to doubt I would ever become negative,” he said.
However, researchers still need to test the vaccine as a treatment in more patients with prolonged infections before concluding that it can work.