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The ratio between SARS-CoV-2 RNA viral load and culturable viral titer differs depending on stage of infection

Porter et al., medRxiv, doi:10.1101/2023.07.06.23292300
Jul 2023  
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Analysis of viral load and infectious virus, showing that the ratio between viral load (measured by PCR) and infectious virus (measured by viral culture) changes dramatically over the course of infection.
Early in infection, viral load is much more strongly correlated with infectious virus. Later in infection, viral load can remain high even with low or undetectable infectious virus.
These results suggest that measuring viral load early in infection is more likely to accurately reflect changes in infectious virus levels with treatment. Assessing viral load later in infection may be less accurate and underestimate reductions in infectious virus with treatment.
Porter et al., 12 Jul 2023, preprint, 12 authors.
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The ratio between SARS-CoV-2 RNA viral load and culturable viral titer differs depending on stage of infection
Michael K Porter, Alexander Viloria Winnett, Linhui Hao, Natasha Shelby, Jessica A Reyes, Noah W Schlenker, Anna E Romano, Colton Tognazzini, Matthew Feaster, Ying-Ying Goh, Michael Gale Jr, Rustem F Ismagilov
Analysis of incident, longitudinal RNA viral loads in saliva and nasal swabs and culturable viral titers in nasal swabs collected twice-daily by a tricenarian male infected with SARS-CoV-2 revealed the ratio between viral load and viral titer can be five orders of magnitude higher during early infection than late infection.
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