SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding in recovered COVID-19 cases and the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in recovered COVID-19 cases and close contacts
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 emerged in December 2019 and has spread globally. Although Thailand has been effective at controlling the spread of COVID-19, disease surveillance and information on antibody responses in infected cases and close contacts are needed because there is still no specific treatment or vaccine available. We investigated 217 recovered COVID-19 cases to monitor their viral RNA
... and production of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The presence of antibodies in blood samples from 308 close contacts of COVID-19 cases was also determined. Viral RNA was still detectable in 6.6 % of recovered COVID-19 cases. The most prolonged duration of viral RNA shedding detected in this study was 105 days. IgM, IgG, and IgA antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were detected in 13.82, 88.48, and 83.41 % of the recovered cases 4–12 weeks after disease onset, respectively. Although the patients had recovered from their illness, the levels of antibodies detected showed association with their symptoms during their stay in hospital. Fifteen of the 308 contacts (4.87 %) of COVID-19 cases tested positive for IgG antibodies. The presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 suggested that there was viral exposure among close contacts. Viral clearance and the pattern of antibody responses in infected individuals are both crucial for effectively combatting SARS-CoV-2. Our study provides additional information on the natural history of this newly emerging disease related to both natural host defenses and a strategy for vaccine development.