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J Clin Virol ; 152: 105167, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1814678


BACKGROUND: Knowing how long SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals can remain infective is crucial for the design of infection prevention and control strategies. Viral culture is the gold standard for detecting an active-replicative virus and evaluating its infectious potential. OBJECTIVE: To assess the correlation of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity with the number of days from symptom onset and the Ct value, using culture as a reference method. Also, to describe a detailed protocol for SARS-CoV-2 culture and immunofluorescence confirmation based on our experience with other respiratory viruses. STUDY DESIGN: 100 consecutive respiratory samples positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR from different subjects were inoculated into VERO E6 cells. RESULTS: Viral isolation was successful in 58% of samples. The median number of days from symptom onset for culture-positive samples was 2, and 15 for culture-negative samples. Six positive cultures were obtained in patients ≥14 days after symptom onset, all of whom were immunocompromised or with severe COVID-19. The mean Ct value was 12.64 units higher in culture-negative than in culture-positive samples. The probability of successfully isolating SARS-CoV-2 in samples with a Ct value <22 was 100%, decreasing to 3.1% when >27. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show a significant positive correlation between the probability of isolating SARS-CoV-2 in culture, fewer days of symptoms and a lower RT-PCR Ct value. SARS-CoV-2 infectivity lasts no more than 14 days from symptom onset in immunocompetent individuals. In contrast, in immunocompromised patients or those with severe COVID-19 infectivity may remain after 14 days. Ct value <22 always indicates infectivity.

COVID-19 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing , Fluorescent Antibody Technique , Humans , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2