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, researchers 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 of all animals. 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 extensive dataset generated allows the researchers to bridge the Rhesus macaques model and the disease observed in humans and to utilize this animal model to assess the clinical and virological efficacy of medical countermeasures. We have therefore moved forward to test antiviral treatments and vaccines in this model.
Respiratory disease and virus shedding in rhesus macaques inoculated with SARS-CoV-2. Nature, 12 May 2020.