Dave has world's longest case of COVID-19

July 06 2021
Dave has world's longest case of COVID-19

A RETIRED Bristol driving instructor has had the world's longest recorded case of coronavirus.

Dave Smith caught COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic last year, falling ill in March.

Dave, who lives near Oldbury Court with his wife Lyn, had only been given the all-clear from leukaemia a week before he first became ill.

The chemotherapy treatment he had taken for leukaemia left his immune system weakened to the extent that he was unable to fully recover from the coronavirus, which remained active in his body for almost a year.

Dave, who taught thousands of Bristolians to drive during 43 years as a driving instructor and whose EL Passo cars were once a familiar sight on local streets, was diagnosed with COVID-19 around a month after first falling ill. Over the course of the next 290 days, he underwent 43 tests before he was finally clear of the disease.

He was taken to hospital seven times, for stays of between one and three-and-a-half weeks.

Suffering chest infections, sepsis, pneumonia and an abscess, he was close to death several times and even arranged the music for his funeral service.

Antibiotics were able to get rid of some of the infections but the covid was still there and kept causing more.

Dave joked: "They even kept a room for me at the hospital."

When he was discharged he was looked after by Lyn at home, where one of the bedrooms was transformed into what was effectively a hospital room.

Lyn, who herself tested positive twice but had only mild symptoms, said the whole experience had been "absolutely horrendous".

It was only after Dave, who was part of a covid research programme run by Bristol University and North Bristol NHS Trust, was given the same experimental cocktail of antibodies used to treat former US President Donald Trump that he was able to fight off the disease.

He received his first negative test in early March, 45 days after the treatment, and has stayed clear during regular tests since.

Dave has now had two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and, with his immune system recovered, is confident he will not be infected again.

News of his case has been reported around the world, with a Russian TV company getting in touch and reports published in India, Australia and New Zealand, where Dave has family.

But the world's longest-known covid infection has left its mark.

Dave, who has two sons, four grandchildren and a great-grandson, as well as three stepchildren and seven step-grandchildren, still has no sense of smell.

He has been left with pulmonary fibrosis, a form of lung disease which leaves him short of breath and from which he has been told he will never recover.

He is only able to walk short distances, joking that there "has to be a tea shop, for tea and a bun, at the end".

Dave said: "My mind feels that I'm getting better but my body sometimes disagrees."

Nevertheless he has returned to his weekly booking as a pub quiz master at the Langley Arms in Emersons Green and hopes to go back to singing and playing guitar, having performed for 57 years, including a long stint in the house band at Bristol's Locarno club in the 1970s.

NBT consultant in infectious diseases Dr Ed Moran, who treated Dave, said it was "wonderful" that the research team had been able to help him using the laboratory-engineered antibodies, which were supplied on a "compassionate use basis" by US firm Regeneron.

He said: "Whilst such cases are rare, there will be a number of people across the country in similar situations. The small numbers make it difficult to perform trials of experimental therapies. "However, it is important that we find a way to access and develop treatment regimens for these individuals, both for the well-being of the individual and to protect public health."