Ocular conjunctival inoculation of SARS-CoV-2 can cause mild COVID-19 in Rhesus macaques

Wei Deng, Linlin Bao, Hong Gao, Zhiguang Xiang, Yajin Qu, Zhiqi Song, Shunran Gong, Jiayi Liu, Jiangning Liu, Pin Yu, Feifei Qi, Yanfeng Xu, Fengli Li, Chong Xiao, Qi Lv, Jing Xue, Qiang Wei, Mingya Liu, Guanpeng Wang, Shunyi Wang, Haisheng Yu, Xing Liu, Wenjie Zhao, Yunlin Han, Chuan Qin

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Received Date: 27th March 20

The outbreak of Corona Virus Disease 2019 caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is highly transmitted. The potential extra-respiratory transmission routes remain uncertain. Five rhesus macaques were inoculated with 1×106 TCID50 of SARS-CoV-2 via conjunctival (CJ), intratracheal (IT), and intragastric (IG) routes, respectively. Remarkably, the CJ inoculated-macaques developed mild interstitial pneumonia and viral load was detectable in the conjunctival swabs at 1 days post-inoculation (dpi). Only via IT inoculation, viral load was detected in the anal swab at 1-7 dpi and macaque showed weight loss. However, viral load was undetectable after IG inoculation. Comparatively, viral load was higher in the nasolacrimal system but lesions of lung were relatively mild and local via CJ inoculation compared with that via IT inoculation, demonstrating distinct characteristics of virus dispersion. Both the two routes affected the alimentary tract. Therefore the clinicians need to protect eye while working with patients. 

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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