Published on Thu Apr 01 2021

SARS-CoV-2 Viral RNA Shedding for More Than 87 Days in an Individual With an Impaired CD8+ T Cell Response.

Jackson S Turner, Aaron Day, Wafaa B Alsoussi, Zhuoming Liu, Jane A O'Halloran, Rachel M Presti, Bruce K Patterson, Sean P J Whelan, Ali H Ellebedy, Philip A Mudd

Prolonged shedding of viral RNA occurs in some individuals following SARS-CoV-2 infection. The case subject recovered from severe COVID-19. The subject did not have any associated rise in anti-Spike protein antibody titers or plasma neutralization activity.

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Abstract

Prolonged shedding of viral RNA occurs in some individuals following SARS-CoV-2 infection. We perform comprehensive immunologic evaluation of one individual with prolonged shedding. The case subject recovered from severe COVID-19 and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA repeatedly as many as 87 days after the first positive test, 97 days after symptom onset. The subject did not have any associated rise in anti-Spike protein antibody titers or plasma neutralization activity, arguing against re-infection. This index subject exhibited a profoundly diminished circulating CD8+ T cell population and correspondingly low SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cell responses when compared with a cohort of other recovering COVID-19 subjects. CD4+ T cell responses and neutralizing antibody responses developed as expected in this individual. Our results demonstrate that detectable viral RNA shedding in the upper airway can occur more than 3 months following infection in some individuals with COVID-19 and suggest that impaired CD8+ T cells may play a role in prolonged viral RNA shedding.