In the respiratory tract, peak SARS-CoV-2

In the respiratory tract, peak SARS-CoV-2 load is observed at the time of symptom onset or in the first week of illness, with subsequent decline thereafter indicating the highest infectiousness potential just before or within the first five days of symptom onset.

  • Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests can detect viral SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the upper respiratory tract for a mean of 17 days; however, detection of viral RNA does not necessarily equate to infectiousness, and viral culture from PCR positive upper respiratory tract samples has been rarely positive beyond nine days of illness.

  • Symptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission (1-2 days before symptom onset), is likely to play a greater role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 than asymptomatic transmission.

  • A wide range of virus-neutralising antibodies have been reported, and emerging evidence suggests that these may correlate with severity of illness but wane over time.