Infectious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Virus in Symptomatic Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outpatients: Host, Disease, and Viral Correlates.
BACKGROUND: Although severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infectious virus isolation in outpatients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been associated with viral RNA levels and symptom duration, little is known about the host, disease, and viral determinants of infectious virus detection. METHODS: COVID-19 adult outpatients were enrolled within 7 days of symptom onset. Clinical symptoms were recorded via patient diary. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected to quantitate SARS-CoV-2 RNA by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and for infectious virus isolation in Vero E6-cells. SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were measured in serum using a validated ELISA assay. RESULTS: Among 204 participants with mild-to-moderate symptomatic COVID-19, the median nasopharyngeal viral RNA was 6.5 (interquartile range [IQR] 4.7-7.6 log10 copies/mL), and 26% had detectable SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (immunoglobulin (Ig)A, IgM, IgG, and/or total Ig) at baseline. Infectious virus was recovered in 7% of participants with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies compared to 58% of participants without antibodies (prevalence ratio [PR] = 0.12, 95% confidence interval [CI]: .04, .36; P = .00016). Infectious virus isolation was also associated with higher levels of viral RNA (mean RNA difference +2.6 log10, 95% CI: 2.2, 3.0; P < .0001) and fewer days since symptom onset (PR = 0.79, 95% CI: .71, .88 per day; P < .0001). CONCLUSIONS: The presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is strongly associated with clearance of infectious virus. Seropositivity and viral RNA levels are likely more reliable markers of infectious virus clearance than subjective measure of COVID-19 symptom duration. Virus-targeted treatment and prevention strategies should be administered as early as possible and ideally before seroconversion. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT04405570.
Mollan, KR; Eron, JJ; Krajewski, TJ; Painter, W; Duke, ER; Morse, CG; Goecker, EA; Premkumar, L; Wolfe, CR; Szewczyk, LJ; Alabanza, PL; Loftis, AJ; Degli-Angeli, EJ; Brown, AJ; Dragavon, JA; Won, JJ; Keys, J; Hudgens, MG; Fang, L; Wohl, DA; Cohen, MS; Baric, RS; Coombs, RW; Sheahan, TP; Fischer, WA
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