Introduction: SARS-CoV-2 has been identified as the new coronavirus causing an outbreak of acute respiratory disease in China in December , 2019 . This disease, currently named COVID-19, has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The first case of COVID-19 in Colombia was reported on March 6 , 2020 . Here we characterize an early SARS-CoV-2 isolate from the pandemic recovered in April , 2020 .
Objective: To describe the isolation and characterization of an early SARS-CoV-2 isolate from the epidemic in Colombia . Materials and methods: A nasopharyngeal specimen from a COVID-19 positive patient was inoculated on different cell lines . To confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on cultures we used qRT-PCR, indirect immunofluorescence assay, transmission and scanning electron microscopy, and next-generation sequencing .
Results: We determined the isolation of SARS-CoV-2 in Vero-E6 cells by the appearance of the cytopathic effect three days post-infection and confirmed it by the positive results in the qRT-PCR and the immunofluorescence with convalescent serum . Transmission and scanning electron microscopy images obtained from infected cells showed the presence of structures compatible with SARS-CoV-2 . Finally, a complete genome sequence obtained by next-generation sequencing allowed classifying the isolate as B.1.5 lineage . Conclusion: The evidence presented in this article confirms the first isolation of SARSCoV-2 in Colombia . In addition, it shows that this strain behaves in cell culture in a similar way to that reported in the literature for other isolates and that its genetic composition is consistent with the predominant variant in the world . Finally, points out the importance of viral isolation for the detection of neutralizing antibodies, for the genotypic and phenotypic characterization of the strain and for testing compounds with antiviral potential.