Incidence and Persistence of Viral Shedding in COVID-19 Post-acute Patients With Negativized Pharyngeal Swab: A Systematic Review
Morone, Giovanni et al.
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After the global spread of a severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), factors that influence viral diffusion have gained great attention. Human-to-human transmission mainly occurs through droplets, but viral RNA clearance in different biological fluids in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains unclear. We aimed to correlate the presence and the relevant temporal patterns of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in biological specimens (stool, urine, blood, and tears) of the transmission with clinical/epidemiological features in patients with COVID-19. We focused on the time window between the positivity of reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests from different specimens. We used the Mantel–Cox log rank test to verify the differences in terms of viral shedding duration, while we employed the Mann–Whitney U-test for subgroup analysis. This review protocol was registered with PROSPERO number: CRD42020183629. We identified 147 studies; we included 55 (1,348 patients) for epidemiological analysis, of which we included 37 (364 patients) for statistical analysis. The most frequently used specimens other than respiratory tract swabs were stool samples (or anal/rectal swabs), with a positivity rate of 48.8%, followed by urine samples, with a positivity rate of 16.4%; blood samples showed a positivity rate of 17.5%. We found that fecal positivity duration (median 19 days) was significantly (p < 0.001) longer than respiratory tract positivity (median 14 days). Limited data are available about the other specimens. In conclusion, medical and social communities must pay close attention to negativization criteria for COVID-19, because patients could have longer alternative viral shedding.