Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Persistence of SARS-CoV-2 Viral RNA in Nasopharyngeal Swabs after Death: An Observational Study

Version 1 : Received: 24 March 2021 / Approved: 25 March 2021 / Online: 25 March 2021 (16:14:21 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Servadei, F.; Mauriello, S.; Scimeca, M.; Caggiano, B.; Ciotti, M.; Anemona, L.; Montanaro, M.; Giacobbi, E.; Treglia, M.; Bernardini, S.; Marsella, L.T.; Urbano, N.; Schillaci, O.; Mauriello, A. Persistence of SARS-CoV-2 Viral RNA in Nasopharyngeal Swabs after Death: An Observational Study. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 800. Servadei, F.; Mauriello, S.; Scimeca, M.; Caggiano, B.; Ciotti, M.; Anemona, L.; Montanaro, M.; Giacobbi, E.; Treglia, M.; Bernardini, S.; Marsella, L.T.; Urbano, N.; Schillaci, O.; Mauriello, A. Persistence of SARS-CoV-2 Viral RNA in Nasopharyngeal Swabs after Death: An Observational Study. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 800.

Journal reference: Microorganisms 2021, 9, 800
DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms9040800

Abstract

Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in post-mortem swabs of subjects who died from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Methods: The presence of the virus was evaluated post-mortem from airways of 27 SARS-CoV-2 positive patients at three different time points (T1 2 hours; T2 12 hours – T3 24 hours) by real-time PCR. Detection of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 was performed by Maglumi 2019-nCoV IgM/IgG chemiluminescence assay. Results: SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA was still detectable in 70,3% of cases within 2 hours after death and in 66,6% of cases up to 24 hours after death. Our data showed an increase of the viral load in 78,6% of positive individuals 24 hours post-mortem (T3) in comparison to that evaluated 2 hours after death (T1). Noteworthy, we detected a positive T3 post-mortem swab (24 hours after death) from 4 subjects who were negative at T1 (2 hours after death). Conclusion: The results of our study may have an important value in the management of deceased subjects not only with a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2, but also for unspecified causes and in the absence of clinical documentation or medical assistance.

Keywords

SARS-CoV-2; pandemic; autopsy; medico-legal procedures

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