Characteristics of Viral Shedding Time in SARS-CoV-2 Infections: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Front Public Health. 2021 Mar 19;9:652842. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.652842. eCollection 2021.

Abstract

Background: The viral shedding time (VST) of SARS-CoV-2 mainly determines its transmission and duration of infectiousness. However, it was heterogeneous in the existing studies. Here, we performed a meta-analysis to comprehensively summarize the VST of SARS-CoV-2. Methods: We searched PubMed, Web of Science, MedRxiv, BioRxiv, CNKI, CSTJ, and Wanfang up to October 25, 2020, for studies that reported VSTs of SARS-CoV-2. Pooled estimates and 95% CIs for the VSTs were calculated using log-transformed data. The VSTs in SARS-CoV-2 infections based on different demographic and clinical characteristics, treatments and specimens were stratified by subgroup analysis. Results: A total of 35 studies involving 3,385 participants met the inclusion criteria. The pooled mean VST was 16.8 days (95% CI: 14.8-19.4, I 2 = 99.56%) in SARS-CoV-2 infections. The VST was significantly longer in symptomatic infections (19.7 days, 95% CI: 17.2-22.7, I 2 = 99.34%) than in asymptomatic infections (10.9 days, 95% CI: 8.3-14.3, I 2 = 98.89%) (P < 0.05). The VST was 23.2 days (95% CI: 19.0-28.4, I 2 = 99.24%) in adults, which was significantly longer than that in children (9.9 days, 95% CI: 8.1-12.2, I 2 = 85.74%) (P < 0.05). The VST was significantly longer in persons with chronic diseases (24.2 days, 95% CI: 19.2-30.2, I 2 = 84.07%) than in those without chronic diseases (11.5 days, 95% CI: 5.3-25.0, I 2 = 82.11%) (P < 0.05). Persons receiving corticosteroid treatment (28.3 days, 95% CI: 25.6-31.2, I 2 = 0.00%) had a longer VST than those without corticosteroid treatment (16.2 days, 95% CI: 11.5-22.5, I 2 = 92.27%) (P = 0.06). The VST was significantly longer in stool specimens (30.3 days, 95% CI: 23.1-39.2, I 2 = 92.09%) than in respiratory tract specimens (17.5 days, 95% CI: 14.9-20.6, I 2 = 99.67%) (P < 0.05). Conclusions: A longer VST was found in symptomatic infections, infected adults, persons with chronic diseases, and stool specimens.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS- CoV-2; meta-analysis; systematic review; viral shedding time.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Asymptomatic Infections
  • COVID-19 / virology*
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Feces / virology
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology*
  • Virus Shedding*

Substances

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones