Safety, tolerability and viral kinetics during SARS-CoV-2 human challenge in young adults.


copies per milliliter (median, 95% confidence interval (8.41, 9.53)). Viable virus was recoverable from the nose up to ~10 days after inoculation, on average. There were no serious adverse events. Mild-to-moderate symptoms were reported by 16 (89%) infected participants, beginning 2-4 days after inoculation, whereas two (11%) participants remained asymptomatic (no reportable symptoms). Anosmia or dysosmia developed more slowly in 15 (83%) participants. No quantitative correlation was noted between VL and symptoms, with high VLs present even in asymptomatic infection. All infected individuals developed serum spike-specific IgG and neutralizing antibodies. Results from lateral flow tests were strongly associated with viable virus, and modeling showed that twice-weekly rapid antigen tests could diagnose infection before 70-80% of viable virus had been generated. Thus, with detailed characterization and safety analysis of this first SARS-CoV-2 human challenge study in young adults, viral kinetics over the course of primary infection with SARS-CoV-2 were established, with implications for public health recommendations and strategies to affect SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Future studies will identify the immune factors associated with protection in those participants who did not develop infection or symptoms and define the effect of prior immunity and viral variation on clinical outcome.

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