Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 From Patient With Coronavirus Disease, United States

Jennifer Harcourt; Azaibi Tamin; Xiaoyan Lu; Shifaq Kamili; Senthil K. Sakthivel; Janna Murray; Krista Queen; Ying Tao; Clinton R. Paden; Jing Zhang; Yan Li; Anna Uehara; Haibin Wang; Cynthia Goldsmith; Hannah A. Bullock; Lijuan Wang; Brett Whitaker; Brian Lynch; Rashi Gautam; Craig Schindewolf; Kumari G. Lokugamage; Dionna Scharton; Jessica A. Plante; Divya Mirchandani; Steven G. Widen; Krishna Narayanan; Shinji Makino; Thomas G. Ksiazek; Kenneth S. Plante; Scott C. Weaver; Stephen Lindstrom; Suxiang Tong; Vineet D. Menachery; Natalie J. Thornburg


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2020;26(6):1266-1273. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The etiologic agent of an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, was identified as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in January 2020. A patient in the United States was given a diagnosis of infection with this virus by the state of Washington and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on January 20, 2020. We isolated virus from nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimens from this patient and characterized the viral sequence, replication properties, and cell culture tropism. We found that the virus replicates to high titer in Vero-CCL81 cells and Vero E6 cells in the absence of trypsin. We also deposited the virus into 2 virus repositories, making it broadly available to the public health and research communities. We hope that open access to this reagent will expedite development of medical countermeasures.


A novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has been identified as the source of a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.[1,2] The virus was found to be a member of the β coronavirus family, in the same species as SARS-CoV and SARS-related bat CoVs.[3,4] Patterns of spread indicate that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted person-to-person, and may be more transmissible than SARS-CoV.[5–7] The spike protein of coronaviruses mediates virus binding and cell entry. Initial characterization of SARS-CoV-2 spike indicates that it binds the same receptor as SARS-CoV angiotensin-converting enzyme, which is expressed in both upper and lower human respiratory tracts.[8]

The unprecedented rapidity of spread of this outbreak represents a critical need for reference reagents. The public health community requires viral lysates to serve as diagnostic references, and the research community needs virus isolates to test antiviral compounds, develop new vaccines, and perform basic research. In this article, we describe isolation of SARS-CoV-2 from a patient who had coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the United States and described its genomic sequence and replication characteristics. We have made the virus isolate available to the public health community by depositing it into 2 virus reagent repositories.