To report methods and findings of 2 autopsies with molecular evaluation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) positive individuals.
Postmortem examination was completed following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidelines. Numerous formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue types from each case were surveyed for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). SARS-CoV-2 viral genome was sequenced by next-generation sequencing (NGS) from FFPE lung tissue blocks.
Postmortem examinations revealed diffuse alveolar damage, while no viral-associated hepatic, cardiac, or renal damage was observed. Viral RNA was detected in lungs, bronchi, lymph nodes, and spleen in both cases using qRT-PCR method. RNA sequencing using NGS in case 1 revealed mutations most consistent with Western European Clade A2a with ORF1a L3606F mutation.
SARS-CoV-2 testing and viral sequencing can be performed from FFPE tissue. Detection and sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in combination with morphological findings from postmortem tissue examination can aid in gaining a better understanding of the virus's pathophysiologic effects on human health.