Long-term severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) shedding was observed from the upper respiratory tract of a female immunocompromised individual with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and acquired hypogammaglobulinemia. Shedding of infectious SARS-CoV-2 was observed up to 70 days, and of genomic and subgenomic RNA up to 105 days, after initial diagnosis. The infection was not cleared after the first treatment with convalescent plasma, suggesting a limited effect on SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract of this individual. Several weeks after a second convalescent plasma transfusion, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was no longer detected. We observed marked within-host genomic evolution of SARS-CoV-2 with continuous turnover of dominant viral variants. However, replication kinetics in Vero E6 cells and primary human alveolar epithelial tissues were not affected. Our data indicate that certain immunocompromised individuals may shed infectious virus longer than previously recognized. Detection of subgenomic RNA is recommended in persistently SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals as a proxy for shedding of infectious virus.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; asymptometic; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; convalescent plasma; immunocompromised; infectious virus; long-term shedding; within host evolution.
Published by Elsevier Inc.