Trajectory of Viral RNA Load Among Persons With Incident SARS-CoV-2 G614 Infection (Wuhan Strain) in Association With COVID-19 Symptom Onset and Severity.
AuthorStankiewicz Karita, Helen C
Dong, Tracy Q
Neuzil, Kathleen M
Paasche-Orlow, Michael K
Kissinger, Patricia J
Thorpe, Lorna E
Landovitz, Raphael J
Magaret, Craig A
Greninger, Alexander L
Jerome, Keith R
Chu, Helen Y
Baeten, Jared M
Barnabas, Ruanne V
Brown, Elizabeth R
JournalJAMA Network Open
PublisherAmerican Medical Association
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractImportance: The SARS-CoV-2 viral trajectory has not been well characterized in incident infections. These data are needed to inform natural history, prevention practices, and therapeutic development. Objective: To characterize early SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA load (hereafter referred to as viral load) in individuals with incident infections in association with COVID-19 symptom onset and severity. Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study was a secondary data analysis of a remotely conducted study that enrolled 829 asymptomatic community-based participants recently exposed (<96 hours) to persons with SARS-CoV-2 from 41 US states from March 31 to August 21, 2020. Two cohorts were studied: (1) participants who were SARS-CoV-2 negative at baseline and tested positive during study follow-up, and (2) participants who had 2 or more positive swabs during follow-up, regardless of the initial (baseline) swab result. Participants collected daily midturbinate swab samples for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection and maintained symptom diaries for 14 days. Exposure: Laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Main Outcomes and Measures: The observed SARS-CoV-2 viral load among incident infections was summarized, and piecewise linear mixed-effects models were used to estimate the characteristics of viral trajectories in association with COVID-19 symptom onset and severity. Results: A total of 97 participants (55 women [57%]; median age, 37 years [IQR, 27-52 years]) developed incident infections during follow-up. Forty-Two participants (43%) had viral shedding for 1 day (median peak viral load cycle threshold [Ct] value, 38.5 [95% CI, 38.3-39.0]), 18 (19%) for 2 to 6 days (median Ct value, 36.7 [95% CI, 30.2-38.1]), and 31 (32%) for 7 days or more (median Ct value, 18.3 [95% CI, 17.4-22.0]). The cycle threshold value has an inverse association with viral load. Six participants (6%) had 1 to 6 days of viral shedding with censored duration. The peak mean (SD) viral load was observed on day 3 of shedding (Ct value, 33.8 [95% CI, 31.9-35.6]). Based on the statistical models fitted to 129 participants (60 men [47%]; median age, 38 years [IQR, 25-54 years]) with 2 or more SARS-CoV-2-positive swab samples, persons reporting moderate or severe symptoms tended to have a higher peak mean viral load than those who were asymptomatic (Ct value, 23.3 [95% CI, 22.6-24.0] vs 30.7 [95% CI, 29.8-31.4]). Mild symptoms generally started within 1 day of peak viral load, and moderate or severe symptoms 2 days after peak viral load. All 535 sequenced samples detected the G614 variant (Wuhan strain). Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort study suggests that having incident SARS-CoV-2 G614 infection was associated with a rapid viral load peak followed by slower decay. COVID-19 symptom onset generally coincided with peak viral load, which correlated positively with symptom severity. This longitudinal evaluation of the SARS-CoV-2 G614 with frequent molecular testing serves as a reference for comparing emergent viral lineages to inform clinical trial designs and public health strategies to contain the spread of the virus.
Identifier to cite or link to this itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/10713/17533
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