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Scientists: Immunocompromised are ‘breeding ground’ for viral mutation

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — According to some researchers, the coronavirus continues to rapidly mutate because of its ability to significantly infect people who are immunocompromised.

News 8 spoke with Dr. Paul Driscoll at Franciscan Health. He says while there is no concrete evidence to support this, there is certainly truth to the theory.

“They can’t clear the virus as effectively as someone with a normal immune system,” he said. “There are some immunocompromised patients who have had active COVID for months and haven’t been able to completely clear it. Some of those have died, and some of those have recovered. But, that’s the exact environment where the virus continues to reproduce, which gives it the chance to develop more mutations.”

Driscoll says the person’s weakened immune system combined with prolonged infection provides an ideal scenario for new COVID-19 variants to emerge.

He also says researchers are investigating if omicron originated in a person who was immunocompromised because the number of mutations is so high, more than any other COVID-19 variant to date.

According to the American Society for Microbiology, the number of mutations hovers around 50, but it could be higher. This is more than double the number of mutations found in delta.