Viral Persistence

Persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients seemingly recovered from COVID-19 (2023)

“Here, we analysed a cohort of patients who seemingly recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection, as concluded from multiple negative PCR tests on both nasopharyngeal swabs and bronchoalveolar lavage protracting for up to 300 days, but who still clinically deteriorated and eventually died. In most of these cases, pneumonia was the primary or co-primary cause of death, a finding that was confirmed by pathology examination of the lungs. Our work shows that these patients, despite the apparent molecular negativity, still harboured virus-infected cells in their lungs, particularly in the para-bronchial glands and in the bronchial cartilage. This is consistent with the conclusion that these patients had never cleared the infection. The absence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the respiratory epithelium possibly explains the apparent negativity of these patients to PCR tests performed on bronchoalveolar lavage.”