Human Rhinovirus Infection Blocks Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Replication Within the Respiratory Epithelium: Implications for COVID-19 Epidemiology

J Infect Dis. 2021 Jul 2;224(1):31-38. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiab147.


Virus-virus interactions influence the epidemiology of respiratory infections. However, the impact of viruses causing upper respiratory infections on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) replication and transmission is currently unknown. Human rhinoviruses cause the common cold and are the most prevalent respiratory viruses of humans. Interactions between rhinoviruses and cocirculating respiratory viruses have been shown to shape virus epidemiology at the individual host and population level. Here, we examined the replication kinetics of SARS-CoV-2 in the human respiratory epithelium in the presence or absence of rhinovirus. We show that human rhinovirus triggers an interferon response that blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication. Mathematical simulations show that this virus-virus interaction is likely to have a population-wide effect as an increasing prevalence of rhinovirus will reduce the number of new coronavirus disease 2019 cases.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; rhinovirus; virus-virus interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibiosis*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / virology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coinfection*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Picornaviridae Infections / virology*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / virology
  • Rhinovirus / physiology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology*
  • Virus Replication*