Reinfection could not occur in SARS-CoV-2 infected rhesus macaques

24 Apr, 2020
An outbreak of the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2), began in Wuhan and spread globally. Recently, it has been reported that discharged patients in China and elsewhere were testing positive after recovering. However, it remains unclear whether the convalescing patients have a risk of “relapse” or “reinfection”. The longitudinal tracking of re-exposure after the disappeared symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2-infected monkeys was performed in this study. We found that weight loss in some monkeys, viral replication mainly in nose, pharynx, lung and gut, as well as moderate interstitial pneumonia at 7 days post-infection (dpi) were clearly observed in rhesus monkeys after the primary infection. After the symptoms were alleviated and the specific antibody tested positively, the half of infected monkeys were rechallenged with the same dose of SARS-CoV-2 strain. Notably, neither viral loads in nasopharyngeal and anal swabs along timeline nor viral replication in all primary tissue compartments at 5 days post-reinfection (dpr) was found in re-exposed monkeys. Combined with the follow-up virologic, radiological and pathological findings, the monkeys with re-exposure showed no recurrence of COVID-19, similarly to the infected monkey without rechallenge. Taken together, our results indicated that the primary SARS-CoV-2 infection could protect from subsequent exposures, which have the reference of prognosis of the disease and vital implications for vaccine design.