Method development for SARS-CoV-2 aerosol sampling

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Title: Method development for SARS-CoV-2 aerosol sampling
Author: Venkat, Vinaya
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Mikrobiologian ja mikrobibiotekniikan maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology
Magisterprogrammet i mikrobiologi och mikrobibioteknik
Specialisation: ei opintosuuntaa
no specialization
ingen studieinriktning
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into discussion the role of airborne transmission in infectious diseases. Many studies on enveloped viruses such as influenza suggest that respiratory viruses can be transmitted with large or small droplets formed when the patients talk, breathe, sneeze or cough. This comes under the category of direct contact. These droplets may also be transmitted indirectly as fomites through contact with contaminated surfaces. It has been difficult to prove that aerosols' transmission as the methods to capture virus in the air are not very sensitive. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus affecting millions of people since 2019, and it has been challenging to contain the spread of this virus. Hence it is of vital importance to understand the transmission of the virus through aerosol and droplets. In this study, aerosol samples were collected from patients in the Surgical Hospital in Helsinki and patients at home in quarantine using various bioaerosols sampling devices like Biospot, Dekati, Button, and Andersen samplers, and passive sampling techniques to capture aerosols and droplets in the air. Such samples were subjected to cell culture on TMPRSS2 expressing Vero E6 cells to check for infectious viruses and RT-PCR using the N-gene targeting method to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the samples. Out of the 32 saliva samples collected, 19 samples were tested positive by RT-PCR, but cell culture was not always positive. Bioaerosol samples collected using Dekati, Button, and Biospot samplers were negative by PCR. However, Andersen samplers showed positive results along with various passive aerosol samples collected on MEM, indicating aerosols' production of small sizes that can be transmitted air in the air to far distances and settling due to gravity. A relation between saliva samples and symptom days indicates the decrease in saliva viruses' infectivity with the prolonged infection as seen from the RT-PCR. From these findings, it can be concluded that SARS-CoV-2 can be spread by airborne and fomite transmission, and more so by patients with symptoms day 2-7 who are proven to be more infectious. Additionally, it was inferred that the Six Stage Andersen impactor would be the most efficient for aerosol sampling. Further studies are still needed to understand the characteristics of the spread and extent of infection caused by the variants of SARS-CoV-2.
Subject: SARS-CoV-2
bioaerosol sampler
N-gene RT-PCR
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