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Epidemiological feature, viral shedding, and antibody seroconversion among asymptomatic carriers and symptomatic/ presymptomatic COVID-19 patients

By Yi Chen, Ping Li, Yi-Bo Ding, Miao Liu, Lei-Jie Liu, Bo Yi, Ting Wu, Hong-Jun Dong, Xu-Ying Lao, Ke-Qing Ding, Hai-Bo Wang, Dong-Liang Zhang, Xiao-Jie Tan, Zhong-Fa Wang, Guo-Zhang Xu, Guang-Wen Cao

Posted 20 Dec 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.18.20248447

Novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is pandemic. However, data concerning the epidemiological features, viral shedding, and antibody dynamics between asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers and COVID-19 patients remain controversial. We enrolled 193 subjects infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Ningbo and Zhoushan, Zhejiang, China from January 21 to March 6, 2020. All subjects were followed up to monitor the dynamics of immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG against SARS-CoV-2. Of those, 31 were asymptomatic carriers, 149 were symptomatic patients, and 14 were presymptomatic patients. Compared to symptomatic patients, asymptomatic carriers were younger and had higher levels of white blood cell and lymphocyte, lower levels of C-reactive protein and viral load, and shorter viral shedding duration. Conversion of IgM from positive to negative was shorter in asymptomatic carriers than in COVID-19 patients (P=0.030). The proportion of those persistently seropositive for IgG was higher in COVID-19 patients than in asymptomatic carriers (P=0.037). Viral load was higher in symptomatic than presymptomatic patients. Viral shedding was longer in presymptomatic patients than in asymptomatic carriers. Conclusively, asymptomatic carriers have a higher antiviral immunity to clear SARS-CoV-2 than do symptomatic patients and this antiviral immunity is not contributable to humoral immunity.

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