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Variant‐specific SARS‐CoV‐2 within‐host kinetics

Abstract : Since early 2021, SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) have been causing epidemic rebounds in many countries. Their properties are well characterised at the epidemiological level but the potential underlying within-host determinants remain poorly understood. We analyse a longitudinal cohort of 6,944 individuals with 14,304 cycle threshold (Ct) values of RT-qPCR VOC screening tests performed in the general population and hospitals in France between February 6 and August 21, 2021. To convert Ct values into numbers of virus copies, we performed an additional analysis using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR). We find that the number of viral genome copies reaches a higher peak value and has a slower decay rate in infections caused by Alpha variant compared to that caused by historical lineages. Following the evidence that viral genome copies in upper respiratory tract swabs are informative on contagiousness, we show that the kinetics of the Alpha variant translate into significantly higher transmission potentials, especially in older populations. Finally, comparing infections caused by the Alpha and Delta variants, we find no significant difference in the peak viral copy number. These results highlight that some of the differences between variants may be detected in virus load variations.
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Contributor : Baptiste Elie Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 26, 2022 - 10:27:22 AM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 12:00:39 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, July 27, 2022 - 6:37:06 PM


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Baptiste Elie, Bénédicte Roquebert, Mircea T Sofonea, Sabine Trombert-Paolantoni, Vincent Foulongne, et al.. Variant‐specific SARS‐CoV‐2 within‐host kinetics. Journal of Medical Virology, Wiley-Blackwell, In press, ⟨10.1002/jmv.27757⟩. ⟨hal-03651890⟩



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