Post-mortem persistence of SARS-CoV-2: a preliminary study

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Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2021 May 8. doi: 10.1007/s12024-021-00375-z. Online ahead of print.


Since the beginning of March 2020, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has been the cause of millions of deaths worldwide. The need to better define the pathogenesis of coronavirus disease 19 (Covid-19) as well as to provide the correct statistical records concerning deaths related to this virus, inevitably involves the role of forensic pathology and routine autopsy practice. Currently, some data on macroscopic and microscopic features in autopsies performed in suspected Covid-19 cases are reported in the literature. The persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in cadavers has not yet been elucidated and only a few reports have emphasized the importance of evaluating the Virus RNA in post-mortem tissues. In this preliminary study, we observed that SARS-CoV-2 survives in multiple cadaver tissues many days after death despite some extreme conditions of post-mortem body preservation. The results of this on-going analysis could help improve the safety of working practices for pathologists as well as understanding the possible interaction between microbiological agents and the cadaver tissue’s supravital reactions.

PMID:33963967 | DOI:10.1007/s12024-021-00375-z