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Original article

Vol. 150 No. 1516 (2020)

Benign COVID-19 in an immunocompromised cancer patient – the case of a married couple

  • Valentina Spezzani
  • Alessio Piunno
  • Hans-Ulrich Iselin
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20246


Respiratory failure in COVID-19 is a common feature in fatal cases and has been considered as a failure of the immune system to control the virus. Here we report the case of COVID-19 affecting an immunocompromised women and her presumably immunocompetent spouse. A married couple (age 60 years) was simultaneously admitted to the emergency department on 10 March 2020 because of dyspnoea and fever, consistent with COVID-19. The wife (patient 1) was partially immunocompromised as a consequence of a recently started chemotherapy with fulvestrant and abemaciclid for recurring breast cancer, her husband (patient 2) had been healthy except for a history of controlled arterial hypertension. Both patients were treated with darunavir/cobicistat and hydroxychloroquine. The clinical course of the immunocompromised partner was benign, without need of intensive care. She was able to leave the hospital on day 6 after admission. In contrast, her husband needed intensive care and his recovery was slow, although eventually successful too. These findings suggest that the course of COVID-19 is not necessarily ominous in the presence of a compromised immune response and tend to reinforce the emerging therapeutic concepts of a controlled mitigation of the immune cascade following SARS CoV-2 infection.


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