VIRAL SHEDDING PATTERN AND CLINICAL FEATURES OF PAKISTANI COVID-19 PATIENTS
Objective: This study was aimed to analyse the pattern of viral shedding and correlate it with clinical demographic characteristics.
Material and Methods: The nasopharyngeal swabs of suspected patients with COVID-19 were collected. The clinical symptoms and medical history were recorded. RNA was detected by using Real-time PCR for N and Orf1b genes. The viral load was determined by the CT method.
Results: Out of a total of 2000 patients, 400 (20%) were found to be positive. Only 22.5% (90/400) patients had variable clinical symptoms, 77.5% (310/ 400) were asymptomatic. Fever, fatigue and loss of taste were the common symptoms in in-patients. Majority of the patients, 52%, were between 21 to 40 years and had viral load between CT 21 to 30. Male gender was predominant in all the age groups except the oldest age group above 60 years. Orf1b based assay was more sensitive to detect SARS CoV2 as compared to N gene.
Conclusion: This is the first report from Pakistan describing that males of intermediate age were more prone to COVID-19 infection and the Orf1b gene was more sensitive for diagnosis. The findings may be helpful for diagnosis and management of COVID-19 patients.
Key Words: SARS CoV2, Viral shedding, Clinical characteristics.