JOURNAL OF INFECTION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, vol.16, no.3, pp.445-452, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
Introduction: Our knowledge has gaps regarding severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) replication levels and its association to severity of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The aim of this study was to investigate the association of SARS-CoV-2 viral load with disease severity and serum biomarkers in COVID-19 patients. Methodology: Viral load was determined via cycle threshold (Ct) values of SARS-CoV-2 real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in 214 adult patients. Ct values were compared with clinical severity, biochemical and hematological biomarkers. Results: Clinical course of the disease was mild (49.1%), moderate (40.2%), and severe (10.7%). Median Ct value was 28.2 (IQR: 22.2-33.8) during the first week of the disease. Ct values were lower within five days after symptom onset [lowest Ct value on the third day (median: 24, IQR: 20.6-32.3)], but they increased significantly during the second and third weeks. No association was detected between admission Ct values and disease severity. Gender, age, co-morbidity, and mortality did not differ significantly in patients with low (<= 25) and high (> 25) Ct values. White blood cell, neutrophil, platelet, and especially lymphocyte counts, were significantly lower in patients with low Ct values. Conclusions: No definitive/clear correlation between SARS-CoV-2 viral load and severity and mortality was found in the studied COVID-19 patients. However, neutrophil, platelet, and especially lymphocyte count were significantly lower in patients with a high viral load.