Persistent Symptoms of COVID-19: Molecular Tests by Nasal and Pharyngeal Swabs Do Not Detect the Presence of the Virus in Intestines, Heart, and Other Organs or Intracellularly

The study “Persistent Symptoms of COVID-19: Molecular Tests by Nasal and Pharyngeal Swabs Do Not Detect the Presence of the Virus in Intestines, Heart, and Other Organs or Intracellularly” by Gustavo Aguirre Chang focuses on the limitations of PCR tests in detecting the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in parts of the body beyond the nose and oropharynx.

Here’s a detailed summary:

Key Points

  1. Limitation of PCR Tests: The study emphasizes that PCR tests, which are typically conducted using nasal and pharyngeal secretions, do not detect the virus in extrapulmonary locations like the intestines, heart, and other organs, or at the intracellular level. This means a negative PCR result doesn’t necessarily indicate complete recovery from COVID-19, especially in cases of severe infection or persistent symptoms.
  2. Viral Presence Beyond Respiratory Tract: The study highlights cases where patients with severe COVID-19 or persistent symptoms had the virus located in multiple organs, including the intestines, heart, skin, and kidneys. This presence is often missed by standard PCR tests.
  3. Persistent Symptoms and Viral Presence: The research discusses the persistence of symptoms in some COVID-19 patients, indicating the continued presence of the virus in the body. This is particularly relevant for patients with post-acute COVID-19 symptoms, where a negative PCR test from nasal and pharyngeal swabs alone may be insufficient for diagnosis.
  4. Evidence of Multi-Organ Impact: The study provides evidence that in severe and critical cases, a high viral load can persist in various organs, challenging the earlier belief that the virus does not persist for more than two weeks in the human body.
  5. Diagnostic Recommendations: For patients with persistent symptoms, the study recommends considering tests beyond nasal and pharyngeal swabs, especially if non-respiratory symptoms are present.

Implications for Diagnosis and Treatment

  • This study underscores the need for a more comprehensive diagnostic approach in COVID-19, particularly for patients with persistent or severe symptoms.
  • It suggests that relying solely on PCR tests of nasal and pharyngeal swabs may lead to an underestimation of the ongoing viral presence and activity in the body.
  • The findings advocate for the consideration of multiple organ systems in the management and treatment of COVID-19, especially in severe cases.


  • As with any study, it’s important to consider this research in the context of the broader scientific literature and evolving understanding of COVID-19.
  • The study’s findings should be validated through further research and clinical trials to solidify the understanding of COVID-19’s impact on the body.

This study contributes to the understanding of COVID-19’s complexity, particularly in cases of persistent symptoms or severe infection, highlighting the need for comprehensive diagnostic and treatment approaches.

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