Explaining why some patients may test positive for COVID-19 long after recovery

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, seems to have become a permanent presence in our lives. Research from Whitehead Institute Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch’s lab reveals that this may be true on multiple levels. Jaenisch, postdoc Liguo Zhang, and colleagues have shown that when the virus infects people, it is capable of integrating parts of its genetic code into the human genome through a process called reverse transcription. This genomic integration is rare, but due to how many hundreds of millions of people have been infected, it has likely occurred many times.

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