Covid-19 will not cause AIDS like HIV does, says top virologist

MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022

A virologist at the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotech) dismissed concerns that Covid-19 destroys the human immune system as HIV does.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Dr Anan Jongkaewwattana said that though the SARS-CoV-2 virus affects T-cells like HIV, the outcome of the two infections is entirely different.

A study published in the online journal Nature found that infected T-cells destroy themselves, resulting in lymphopenia or a drop in the white blood cell count. The study also found that the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects activated T-cells by using a protein receptor.

However, Anan said the key difference between SARS-CoV-2 and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the lifespan of the infected T-cells.

He said the coronavirus kills the T-cells, causing very little of the virus to replicate. HIV, however, uses CD4 T-cells as factories to continue reproducing the virus.

Anan also said HIV can insert its RNA (ribonucleic acid which serves as a genetic code carrier) into the DNA of the host. Once the T-cells are activated and multiplied, the viral RNA is spread with the cells, causing the T-cells to endlessly produce the virus so it cannot be eradicated.

“Since SARS-CoV-2 causes infected T-cells to die without multiplying and the RNA of the virus does not mix with the DNA of the host cell, SARS-CoV-2 cannot create acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS like HIV does,” Dr Anan explained.