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BackgroundA pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been spreading over the world. However, the viral dynamics, host serologic responses, and their associations with clinical manifestations, have not been well described in prospective cohort. MethodsWe conducted a prospective cohort and enrolled 67 COVID-19 patients admitting between Jan 26 and Feb 5, 2020. Clinical specimens including nasopharyngeal swab, sputum, blood, urine and stool were tested periodically according to standardized case report form with final follow-up on February 27. The routes and duration of viral shedding, antibody response, and their associations with disease severity and clinical manifestations were systematically evaluated. Coronaviral particles in clinical specimens were observed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). ResultsThe median duration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding were 12 (3-38), 19 (5-37), and 18 (7-26) days in nasopharyngeal swabs, sputum and stools, respectively. Only 13 urines (5.6%) and 12 plasmas (5.7%) were viral positive. Prolonged viral shedding was observed in severe patients than that of non-severe patients. Cough but not fever, aligned with viral shedding in clinical respiratory specimens, meanwhile the positive stool-RNA appeared to align with the proportion who concurrently had cough and sputum production, but not diarrhea. Typical coronaviral particles could be found directly in sputum by TEM. The anti-nucleocapsid-protein IgM started on day 7 and positive rate peaked on day 28, while that of IgG was on day 10 and day 49 after illness onset. IgM and IgG appear earlier, and their titers are significantly higher in severe patients than non-severe patients (p<0.05). The weak responders for IgG had a significantly higher viral clearance rate than that of strong responders (p= 0.011). ConclusionsNasopharyngeal, sputum and stools rather than blood and urine, were the major shedding routes for SARS-CoV-2, and meanwhile sputum had a prolonged viral shedding. Symptom cough seems to be aligned with viral shedding in clinical respiratory and fecal specimens. Stronger antibody response was associated with delayed viral clearance and disease severity. Summary boxesO_ST_ABSWhat is already known on this topicC_ST_ABSAs a newly appearing infectious disease, early efforts have focused on virus identification, describing the epidemiologic characteristics, clinical course, prognostics for critically illed cases and mortality. Among COVID-19 cases reported in mainland China (72 314 cases, updated through February 11, 2020), 81% are mild, 14% are severe, and 5% are critical. The estimated overall case fatality rate (CFR) is 2.3%. Some case series reported had shown that SARS-CoV-2 could shed in upper/lower respiratory specimens, stools, blood and urines of patients. However, important knowledge gaps remain, particularly regarding full kinetics of viral shedding and host serologic responses in association with clinical manifestations and host factors. What this study addsThe incubation period has no change after spreading out of Wuhan, and has no sex or age differences, however, children had prolonged incubation period. Due to early recognition and intervention, COVID-19 illness of Chongqing cohort is milder than that of Wuhan patients reported. This prospective cohort study on SARS-CoV-2 infection shows clearly that the viral and serological kinetics were related in duration of infection, disease severity, and clinical manifestations of COVID-19. Our data demonstrate that nasopharyngeal, sputum and stools are major shedding routes for SARS-CoV-2, and stronger NP antibody response is associated with delayed viral clearance and disease severity.

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