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      Temporal profiles of viral load in posterior oropharyngeal saliva samples and serum antibody responses during infection by SARS-CoV-2: an observational cohort study

      , MD a , b , , , FRCP c , , , FRCP c , , MRCP d , , FRCP e , , FRCPath f , , PhD a , , BSc a , , MPH c , , MRCP c , , MRCP c , , MRCP c , , MPhil a , , PhD a , , PhD a , , MSc a , , BSc a , , PhD a , , MD a , , MD a , , MD a , b , , MD g , , PhD a , , PhD a , , MD b , *

      The Lancet. Infectious Diseases

      Elsevier Ltd.

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          Summary

          Background

          Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) causes severe community and nosocomial outbreaks. Comprehensive data for serial respiratory viral load and serum antibody responses from patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are not yet available. Nasopharyngeal and throat swabs are usually obtained for serial viral load monitoring of respiratory infections but gathering these specimens can cause discomfort for patients and put health-care workers at risk. We aimed to ascertain the serial respiratory viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in posterior oropharyngeal (deep throat) saliva samples from patients with COVID-19, and serum antibody responses.

          Methods

          We did a cohort study at two hospitals in Hong Kong. We included patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. We obtained samples of blood, urine, posterior oropharyngeal saliva, and rectal swabs. Serial viral load was ascertained by reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). Antibody levels against the SARS-CoV-2 internal nucleoprotein (NP) and surface spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD) were measured using EIA. Whole-genome sequencing was done to identify possible mutations arising during infection.

          Findings

          Between Jan 22, 2020, and Feb 12, 2020, 30 patients were screened for inclusion, of whom 23 were included (median age 62 years [range 37–75]). The median viral load in posterior oropharyngeal saliva or other respiratory specimens at presentation was 5·2 log 10 copies per mL (IQR 4·1–7·0). Salivary viral load was highest during the first week after symptom onset and subsequently declined with time (slope −0·15, 95% CI −0·19 to −0·11; R 2=0·71). In one patient, viral RNA was detected 25 days after symptom onset. Older age was correlated with higher viral load (Spearman's ρ=0·48, 95% CI 0·074–0·75; p=0·020). For 16 patients with serum samples available 14 days or longer after symptom onset, rates of seropositivity were 94% for anti-NP IgG (n=15), 88% for anti-NP IgM (n=14), 100% for anti-RBD IgG (n=16), and 94% for anti-RBD IgM (n=15). Anti-SARS-CoV-2-NP or anti-SARS-CoV-2-RBD IgG levels correlated with virus neutralisation titre ( R 2>0·9). No genome mutations were detected on serial samples.

          Interpretation

          Posterior oropharyngeal saliva samples are a non-invasive specimen more acceptable to patients and health-care workers. Unlike severe acute respiratory syndrome, patients with COVID-19 had the highest viral load near presentation, which could account for the fast-spreading nature of this epidemic. This finding emphasises the importance of stringent infection control and early use of potent antiviral agents, alone or in combination, for high-risk individuals. Serological assay can complement RT-qPCR for diagnosis.

          Funding

          Richard and Carol Yu, May Tam Mak Mei Yin, The Shaw Foundation Hong Kong, Michael Tong, Marina Lee, Government Consultancy Service, and Sanming Project of Medicine.

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          Most cited references 6

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          Use of the oral neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir in experimental human influenza: randomized controlled trials for prevention and treatment.

          Influenza virus neuraminidase is thought to be essential for virus replication in humans; however, to date, available neuraminidase inhibitors are limited to zanamivir, which is topically administered. To determine the safety, tolerability, and antiviral activity of oral neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir (GS4104/Ro64-0796) for prevention and the early treatment of influenza in experimentally infected humans. Two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials conducted between June and July 1997. Individual hotel rooms; 2 large US university medical schools. A total of 117 healthy adult volunteers (aged 18-40 years; median age, 21 years) who were susceptible (hemagglutination-inhibition antibody titer < or =1:8). All subjects were inoculated intranasally with influenza A/Texas/36/91 (H1N1) virus. For the prophylaxis study, oral oseltamivir (100 mg once daily [n = 12], 100 mg twice daily [n = 12], or matching placebo [n = 13], starting 26 hours before virus inoculation) was administered. For the treatment study, the same drug was given (20 mg, 100 mg, or 200 mg twice daily, 200 mg once daily, or matching placebo [n = 16], in each group starting 28 hours after inoculation). All regimens were continued for 5 days. Comparing placebo groups with pooled treatment groups, for prophylaxis, outcomes included frequency of infection and viral shedding; for treatment, viral shedding in titers. In the prophylaxis study, 8 (67%) of 12 placebo and 8 (38%) of 21 oseltamivir recipients became infected (P = .16; efficacy, 61%); 6 (50%) placebo compared with 0 oseltamivir recipients shed virus (P<.001; efficacy, 100%), and 33% of placebo but no oseltamivir recipient had infection-related respiratory illness (P<.01). Among infected subjects in the treatment study (n = 69), the viral titer area under the curve of the combined oseltamivir groups (n = 56) was lower (median [interquartile range [IQR]], 80 [23-151] vs 273 [79-306] log10 tissue culture-infective doses50 per milliliter x hour; P = .02) than the placebo group (n = 13), and the median (IQR) duration of viral shedding with therapy was reduced from 107 (83-131) to 58 (35-59) hours (P = .003). Oseltamivir treatment also reduced symptom scores (median [IQR] score-hours, 225 [97-349] vs 400 [189-645]; P = .05), and nasal proinflammatory cytokine levels. Transient mild to moderate nausea after dosing was observed in 15 (17%) of 88 oseltamivir and 2 (7%) of 29 placebo recipients (95% confidence interval for difference, -11% to 68%), which was largely prevented by ingestion with food. In these trials, prophylaxis and early treatment with oral oseltamivir were both associated with significant antiviral and clinical effects in experimental human influenza.
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            • Record: found
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            • Article: not found

            Serological responses in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection and cross-reactivity with human coronaviruses 229E, OC43, and NL63.

            The serological response profile of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (CoV) infection was defined by neutralization tests and subclass-specific immunofluorescent (IF) tests using serial sera from 20 patients. SARS CoV total immunoglobulin (Ig) (IgG, IgA, and IgM [IgGAM]) was the first antibody to be detectable. There was no difference in time to seroconversion between the patients who survived (n = 14) and those who died (n = 6). Although SARS CoV IgM was still detectable by IF tests with 8 of 11 patients at 7 months postinfection, the geometric mean titers dropped from 282 at 1 month postinfection to 19 at 7 months (P = 0.001). In contrast, neutralizing antibody and SARS CoV IgGAM and IgG antibody titers remained stable over this period. The SARS CoV antibody response was sometimes associated with an increase in preexisting IF IgG antibody titers for human coronaviruses OC43, 229E, and NL63. There was no change in IF IgG titer for virus capsid antigen from the herpesvirus that was used as an unrelated control, Epstein-Barr virus. In contrast, patients who had OC43 infections, and probably also 229E infections, without prior exposure to SARS CoV had increases of antibodies specific for the infecting virus but not for SARS CoV. There is a need for awareness of cross-reactive antibody responses between coronaviruses when interpreting IF serology.
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              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              Efficacy of Clarithromycin-Naproxen-Oseltamivir Combination in the Treatment of Patients Hospitalized for Influenza A(H3N2) Infection: An Open-label Randomized, Controlled, Phase IIb/III Trial.

              Influenza causes excessive hospitalizations and deaths. The study assessed the efficacy and safety of a clarithromycin-naproxen-oseltamivir combination for treatment of serious influenza.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Lancet Infect Dis
                Lancet Infect Dis
                The Lancet. Infectious Diseases
                Elsevier Ltd.
                1473-3099
                1474-4457
                23 March 2020
                23 March 2020
                Affiliations
                [a ]State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Carol Yu Centre for Infection, Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [b ]Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infection Control, The University of Hong Kong–Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, China
                [c ]Department of Medicine and Geriatrics, Princess Margaret Hospital, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [d ]Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [e ]Department of Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [f ]Department of Pathology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [g ]Department of Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence to: Dr Kwok-Yung Yuen, Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infection Control, The University of Hong Kong–Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, China kyyuen@ 123456hku.hk
                [†]

                Contributed equally

                Article
                S1473-3099(20)30196-1
                10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30196-1
                7158907
                32213337
                © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                Categories
                Article

                Infectious disease & Microbiology

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