Scientific research

SARS-CoV-2 infection in golden Syrian hamsters resemble features found in humans with mild infections.

In the search for a small animal model for COVID-19, HKU SPH researchers have explored the potential of golden Syrian hamsters and reported the pathogenesis and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in these hamsters in the journal Nature. In this study, viral antigens were detected using immunohistochemistry, in the nose, airways, and lungs of golden Syrian hamsters by the second day after they have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and have been able to clear the virus viral clearance in 7 days post-infection. They also found that the infection transmitted efficiently by direct contact and via aerosols, while transmission via fomites was less efficient. All animals recovered with the detection of neutralizing antibodies. This suggested that SARS-CoV-2 infection in golden hamsters were similar to mild infections in humans, and this can help to provide evidence for vaccine and therapy development.

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