SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV viral load dynamics, duration of viral shedding, and infectiousness: a systematic review and meta-analysis

November 19, 2020

"Muge Cevik, Matthew Tate, Ollie Lloyd, Alberto Enrico Maraolo, Jenna Schafers, Antonia Ho"

The Lancet

The authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate and compare viral load kinetics, duration of viral shedding, and viable virus of SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. The mean duration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding was 17 days in the upper respiratory tract (URT), 14.6 days in the lower respiratory tract (LRT), 17.2 days in stool, and 16.6 days in serum. Increased patient age was associated with prolonged SARS-CoV-2 shedding as well. Finally, the authors found that SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the URT peaked during the first week of illness, as compared to SARS-CoV (days 10-14) and MERS-CoV (days 7-10). This peak of viral shed provides important insight into the optimal time for clinical case diagnosis and highlights the effectiveness of case investigation and public education as key to containing SARS-CoV-2.

Cevik M, Tate M, Lloyd O, Maraolo AE, Schafers J, Ho A. SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV Viral Load Dynamics, Duration of Viral Shedding and Infectiousness: A Living Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. SSRN Electron J 2020; 5247: 1–10.