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Respiratory disease in rhesus macaques inoculated with SARS-CoV-2


An outbreak of a novel coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2, causing respiratory disease and a ~2% case fatality rate started in Wuhan, China in December 20191,2. Following unprecedented global spread3, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Although data on disease in humans are emerging at a steady pace, certain aspects of the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 can only be studied in detail in animal models, where repeated sampling and tissue collection is possible. Here, we show that SARS-CoV-2 causes respiratory disease in infected rhesus macaques, with disease lasting 8-16 days. Pulmonary infiltrates, a hallmark of human disease, were visible in lung radiographs. High viral loads were detected in swabs from the nose and throat of all animals as well as in bronchoalveolar lavages; in one animal we observed prolonged rectal shedding. Taken together, the rhesus macaque recapitulates moderate disease observed in the majority of human cases. The establishment of the rhesus macaque as a model of COVID-19 will increase our understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease and will aid development and testing of medical countermeasures.

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Correspondence to Emmie de Wit.

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Supplementary Tables

This file contains Supplementary Table 1, the clinical scoring sheet used for health assessments of nonhuman primates, and Supplementary Table 2, details of the blood chemistry in rhesus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2.

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Munster, V.J., Feldmann, F., Williamson, B.N. et al. Respiratory disease in rhesus macaques inoculated with SARS-CoV-2. Nature (2020).

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Further reading

  • COVID-19: animals, veterinary and zoonotic links

    • Ruchi Tiwari
    • , Kuldeep Dhama
    • , Khan Sharun
    • , Mohd. Iqbal Yatoo
    • , Yashpal Singh Malik
    • , Rajendra Singh
    • , Izabela Michalak
    • , Ranjit Sah
    • , D. Katterine Bonilla-Aldana
    •  & Alfonso J Rodriguez-Morales

    Veterinary Quarterly (2020)


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