Persistence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in post-mortem swab 35 days after death: A case report

Pasquale Beltempo, Serena Maria Curti, Renato Maserati, Mirella Gherardi, Maurizio Castelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Post-mortem swabs for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA detection have been recommended by several Scientific Committees and Institutions as a standard procedure for post-mortem assessment of potential Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) related deaths. To date there is no data about the SARS-CoV-2 RNA detectability period in human bodies after death. The present case documents the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the upper respiratory tract 35-days after death. Post-mortem swabs could be used as a valuable tool in preventive evaluation of the risks-benefits ratio associated with autopsy execution. SARS-CoV-2 RNA post-mortem detection could have a key diagnostic role in deaths lacking medical assistance, unattended deaths, and patients with multiple comorbidities. Based on the present report, staged post-mortem swabs should be performed even after a long post-mortem interval.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110653
JournalForensic Science International
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Autopsy
  • Biosafety
  • COVID-19
  • Post-mortem diagnosis
  • Post-mortem swab
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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