Man (72) describes having Covid-19 for over 10 months

Dave Smith says he coughed for ‘five hours straight’ during 305-day infection

A 72-year-old British man has described his experience as what is thought to be the patient who had Covid-19 for the longest time anywhere in the world, after testing positive for the novel coronavirus for 305 days.

Dave Smith, from Bristol, a retired driving instructor, said he was ready to die and give up on life.

He had Covid-19 for more than 10 months in what experts have said is the longest ever recorded persistent infection with the virus.

He told the BBC how he coughed for “five hours straight, non-stop . . . if you can imagine the drain that puts on your body, the energy”.


He added: “I was ready to give up, I said to Lyn my wife: ‘Let me go, I’ve been hanging on, it’s so bad now, I’m just jelly.’ If I go in the night, don’t be surprised.”

His wife Lynda said there were “a lot of times we didn’t think he was going to pull through”.

Mr Smith said he celebrated the news he was Covid negative with a bottle of champagne.

Mr Smith had conditions which led to him having a compromised immune system, putting him more at risk from Covid-19.

He 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.”

He added jokingly: “I called all the family in to make my peace with them. I wish I’d kept my mouth shut now.”

He said his weight fell from 117kg to 64kg while ill due to a 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 stand up.

“Sometimes I thought: I wish they’d take me in the middle of the night, because I just can’t go on anymore. You get to the point where you are more afraid of living than you are of dying.”

His case is to be presented to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in July.

Hospital admission

Academics from the University of Bristol, North Bristol NHS Trust and Public Health England said Mr Smith was admitted to hospital in May 2020 with a cough and fever.

A PCR test confirmed he had Covid-19.

He was discharged after eight days but he had “significant breathlessness and went on to have interspersed acute deteriorations associated with fever” which required further hospital admission in August, September, October and December.

The experts noted that in December 2020 a trial of daily remdesivir therapy was discontinued after 17 days as it had no effect.

He later received treatment with monoclonal antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab.

Mr Smith was successfully treated with the laboratory engineered antibodies, the University of Bristol said.

It added that his health improved dramatically, and the virus was not detected in PCR tests 45 days after the combined treatment.

The combination of antibodies, by pharmaceutical firm Regeneron, has since been shown to save the lives of some of the sickest Covid-19 patients in a clinical trial, but the treatment regime is yet to be approved for use in the UK.

Academics have told conference officials that he reported symptoms for six weeks before his first Covid test so they suspect infection was actually longer – meaning that he could have continuously tested positive for the virus for almost a year.

Mr Smith had a history of a condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which meant he had lung disease causing inflammation of the lung tissue and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells and tends to progress slowly over many years.

Other researchers have previously detailed a Covid-19 case which lasted for 85 days.

A number of people have spent long periods of time in hospital after being admitted with Covid-19. But this does not necessarily mean that they will test positive for the whole length of their stay. – PA