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The pandemic

I had the world’s longest Covid case

Covid sufferer Dave Smith. BBC

When most people contract Covid-19, the virus stays in their body for about 10 days, says the Today programme’s John Kay. When Dave Smith got the bug, it hung around for 10 months. It wasn’t just lingering side effects: the 72-year-old driving instructor from Bristol had an active case of the virus for almost 300 days, the longest recorded infection in the world. “I tested positive 43 times,” he says. “One time I coughed for five hours nonstop. I don’t mean ‘cough break cough break’, I mean ‘cough cough cough’.”

In 10 months, Smith, who plays in a rock band by night, lost nearly 10 stone and was taken to hospital seven times. “I’d resigned myself. Called the family in, made my peace with everybody, made a list of the music I wanted played at my funeral.” As a last resort, his doctors prescribed a cocktail of antiviral drugs. Within weeks he was improving.

Smith’s first negative test caused his wife to sprint up and down the street in celebration. “We had a bottle of champagne that’s been around since God knows when and we popped it open,” he says. “We don’t even drink!” Now he’s working on getting better and enjoying his title as the world’s longest Covid case. “I think I should have a badge or a scroll or something.”

Listen to the full clip here, from 1:44:44.