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Omicron-Like Covid Variants Could Be Stifled by AIDS Treatment Programs

  • HIV sufferer in South Africa harbored Covid virus for 216 days
  • Scientists led by Alex Sigal make hypothesis in revised paper
A mass Covid-19 vaccination site in Johannesburg, Dec. 9, 2021.

A mass Covid-19 vaccination site in Johannesburg, Dec. 9, 2021.

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South Africa should boost the provision of antiretroviral drugs for millions of people infected with HIV to potentially reduce the chance of new Covid-19 variants to emerge, scientists said.

In a revised study of an HIV sufferer with limited adherence to an antiretroviral therapy, or ART program, scientists led by Alex Sigal of the Durban, South Africa-based Africa Health Research Institute analyzed the mutations that developed as the female subject harbored the Covid-19 virus for 216 days. HIV, advanced cancer and some other diseases, suppress immune systems, allowing other infections to take hold. ART treatment restores the body’s ability to fight off infections.