Dave Smith, retired driving instructor from Bristol, caught the COVID during the first wave in March 2020, but the virus didn’t leave him for almost 300 days.
Although there are millions of people who are permanently affected by coronavirus, Smith wasn’t actually suffering with long COVID. In fact, he actively had the infection for almost a year. In 10 months, he had 43 positivetestresults, was admitted to the hospital seven times, and he even planned his funeral five times because he thought he wouldn’t make it out alive. Smith told The Guardian:
Whenever I went bad, I went really bad—down to death’s door. My wife started to arrange a funeral five times.
Patients who have persistent infections normally have low levels of antibodies because of other treatments like those for blood cancer and previously Smith had undergone chemotherapy to treat leukaemia. He was declared cancer free in 2019, fell sick with COVID a year later.
On the verge of dying
At times his condition was so bad that he would spend hours in the night coughing non-stop. He said in conversation with the BBC:
At one time I coughed for five hours non-stop. I don’t mean ‘cough, break, cough, break’ I mean ‘cough, cough, cough.’ Five hours from five in the morning till 10 in the morning non-stop. If you can imagine the drain it puts on your body, you know the energy.
Over the 10 months, Smith lost 10 stone—going down from 117 kgs to just 64.
The doctors tried all the approved treatments on him, but nothing worked. Finally, they gave him the same antibody cocktail that was used to treat Trump—REGEN-COV—and that’s what saved his life. He tested negative for the first time in 10 months, 45 days after starting this antibody therapy. Smith added in his interview with BBC:
Suddenly Dr. Moran rang up and he said, ‘you’ve got a negative,’ he said, ‘but it might be a fluke.’
He said, ‘let’s give it another week before we say you’re definitely negative.’ He rung up the next week, ‘you’re negative.’ We had a bottle of champagne that’s been around since God knows when. We don’t normally drink, but that bottle went that night.
Dave Smith is not the only person who has battled with COVID for almost a year. The Guardian reported that 49-year-old Jason Kelk, from Leeds, also contracted the virus last year in March but sadly he passed away on Friday, 18 June, after withdrawing from treatment.