Monoclonal antibody treatment drives rapid culture conversion in SARS-CoV-2 infection

medRxiv. 2021 Dec 30;2021.12.25.21268211. doi: 10.1101/2021.12.25.21268211. Preprint


Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are the treatment of choice for high-risk ambulatory persons with mild to moderate COVID-19. We studied viral culture dynamics post-treatment in a subset of participants receiving the mAb bamlanivimab in the ACTIV-2 trial. Viral load by qPCR and viral culture were performed from anterior nasal swabs collected on study days 0 (day of treatment), 1, 2, 3, and 7. Treatment with mAb resulted in rapid clearance of culturable virus in participants without treatment-emergent resistance. One day after treatment, 0 of 28 (0%) participants receiving mAb and 16 of 39 (41%) receiving placebo still had culturable virus (p <0.0001); nasal viral loads were only modestly lower in the mAb-treated group at days 2 and 3. Recrudescence of culturable virus was detected in three participants with emerging mAb resistance and viral load rebound. The rapid reduction in shedding of viable SARS-CoV-2 after mAb treatment highlights the potential role of mAbs in preventing disease transmission.

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