Quantifying SARS-CoV-2 viral load: current status and future prospects.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Introduction: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged as a novel viral agent that quickly spread worldwide. SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the human coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and had an immeasurable toll on the economy. Currently, most clinical cases are identified by qualitative molecular testing. However, the need for quantitative assessment is gaining traction.Areas covered: In this review, the current state and future perspective of SARS-CoV-2 viral load quantification is presented.Expert opinion: Viral load quantification is a critical measure that informs clinicians of treatment response, actionable viral load levels, and guidance on patient management. Additionally, for pathogens with epidemiological consequences, viral load can provide information to guide infection control measures and policies. While qualitative detection is sufficient to identify cases and initiate containment and mitigation measures in the vast majority of COVID-19 cases, in certain situations, SARS-CoV-2 quantification is needed to assess viral load trending. However, there are obstacles to quantification, including variability in respiratory specimen collection and the lack of commutable reference material. At the same time, the need for quantification for clinical and epidemiological management is growing, especially concerning individuals with prolonged RNA shedding.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lee, MJ

Published Date

  • October 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1017 - 1023

PubMed ID

  • 34369836

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8425446

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1744-8352

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/14737159.2021.1962709


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England