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SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal viral load in individuals infected with BA.2, compared to Alpha, Gamma, Delta and BA.1 variants: A single-center comparative analysis

Mastrorosa, I; Cozzi-Lepri, A; Colavita, F; Lalle, E; Mazzotta, V; Cimaglia, C; Paulicelli, J; ... Antinori, A; + view all (2022) SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal viral load in individuals infected with BA.2, compared to Alpha, Gamma, Delta and BA.1 variants: A single-center comparative analysis. Journal of Clinical Virology , 157 , Article 105299. 10.1016/j.jcv.2022.105299. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 has evolved, leading to the emergence of new Variants Of Concern (VOCs) with significant impact on transmissibility. Although the transmission process is complex, higher nasopharyngeal viral load (NP-VL) can be considered as a proxy for greater transmissibility. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this analysis was to compare NP-VL across a set of representative VOCs observed in mildly symptomatic patients. STUDY DESIGN: Observational single-center comparative analysis of patients with early mild-to-moderate COVID-19, enrolled within the early treatment access program of Lazzaro Spallanzani Institute (March 2021-March 2022). NP-VL before drug administration was estimated through RT-PCR, based on cycle threshold values (CTs); VOCs were identified by Sanger sequencing. VOCs’ average treatment effect (ATE) was estimated on the CTs fitted in the log2 scale, controlling for potential confounders. RESULTS: A total of 707 patients were included. VOCs were: 10% Alpha, 3% Gamma, 34% Delta, 34% BA.1, 19% BA.2. Mean CTs for BA.1 and BA.2 were lower than Delta and BA.1, respectively. After adjusting for calendar time, age, immunodeficiency and vaccination, CTs for Gamma were lower than those seen for Alpha and higher than Delta, for Delta were similar to BA.1, for BA.2 were lower than Delta and BA.1. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis shows higher NP-VL of BA.2 compared to previously circulating VOCs, even after controlling for factors potentially contributing to the amount of nasopharyngeal viral RNA, included vaccination, supporting the increased transmissibility of BA.2. Further studies are necessary to clarify this mechanism and to provide guidance for public health measures.

Type: Article
Title: SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal viral load in individuals infected with BA.2, compared to Alpha, Gamma, Delta and BA.1 variants: A single-center comparative analysis
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jcv.2022.105299
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcv.2022.105299
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Cycle threshold (CT) values, Increased transmissibility, Nasopharyngeal viral load, Omicron BA.2, SARS-CoV-2, Variants of concern (VOCs)
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10157450
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