For successful xenotransplantation, freedom of the xenocraft donor from certain viral infections that may harm the organ recipient is important. A novel human coronavirus (CoV) with a respiratory tropism, designated as SARS-CoV-2, was first identified in January 2020 in China, but likely has been circulating unnoticed for some time before. Since, this virus has reached most inhabited geographic areas, resulting in a major global pandemic which is still ongoing. Due to a high number of subclinical infections, re-infections, geographic differences in diagnostic tests used, and differences in result reporting programs, the percentage of the population infected with SARS-CoV-2 at least once has been challenging to estimate. With continuous ongoing infections and an overall high viral load, it makes sense to look into possible viral spillover events in pets and farm animals, who are often in close contact with humans. The pig is currently the main species considered for xenotransplantation and hence there is interest to know if pigs can become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and if so what the infection dynamics may look like. This review article summarizes the latest research findings on this topic. It would appear that pigs can currently be considered a low risk species, and hence do not pose an immediate risk to the human population or xenotransplantation recipients per se. Monitoring the ever-changing SARS-CoV-2 variants appears important to recognize immediately should this change in the future.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Opriessnig, T. & Huang, Y. 2022, 'SARS-CoV-2 does not infect pigs, but this has to be verified regularly', Xenotransplantation, article no: e12772. https://doi.org/10.1111/xen.12772

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Last updated: 06 September 2022
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