Host and viral determinants of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the Syrian hamster.

Publication date: Feb 28, 2024

It remains poorly understood how SARS-CoV-2 infection influences the physiological host factors important for aerosol transmission. We assessed breathing pattern, exhaled droplets, and infectious virus after infection with Alpha and Delta variants of concern (VOC) in the Syrian hamster. Both VOCs displayed a confined window of detectable airborne virus (24-48 hr), shorter than compared to oropharyngeal swabs. The loss of airborne shedding was linked to airway constriction resulting in a decrease of fine aerosols (1-10 um) produced, which are suspected to be the major driver of airborne transmission. Male sex was associated with increased viral replication and virus shedding in the air. Next, we compared the transmission efficiency of both variants and found no significant differences. Transmission efficiency varied mostly among donors, 0-100% (including a superspreading event), and aerosol transmission over multiple chain links was representative of natural heterogeneity of exposure dose and downstream viral kinetics. Co-infection with VOCs only occurred when both viruses were shed by the same donor during an increased exposure timeframe (24-48 hr). This highlights that assessment of host and virus factors resulting in a differential exhaled particle profile is critical for understanding airborne transmission.

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Concepts Keywords
Downstream airborne
Efficiency infectious disease
Hamster microbiology
Oropharyngeal SARS-CoV-2
Viruses syrian hamster
variants of concern
virus kinetics


Type Source Name
disease IDO host
disease MESH SARS-CoV-2 infection
pathway REACTOME SARS-CoV-2 Infection
disease MESH infection
pathway KEGG Viral replication
disease MESH virus shedding
drug DRUGBANK Medical air
disease VO efficiency
disease VO dose
disease MESH Co-infection
disease VO Viruses
disease MESH infectious disease

Original Article

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