Eigenvalue analysis is an important tool in economics and nonlinear physics to analyze industrial processes and instability phenomena, respectively. A model-based eigenvalue analysis of viral load data from eight symptomatic COVID-19 patients was conducted. The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the instabilities were determined that give rise to COVID-19. For all eight patients, it was found that the virus dynamics followed the unstable eigenvectors until the viral load reached the respective peak values. At the peak virus values, the virus dynamics branched off from the directions specified by the eigenvectors. The temporal course of the unstable eigenvalues was determined as well. For all patients, it was found that the eigenvalues switched from positive to negative values just when the virus load reached peak values. These findings suggest that the fixed, instability-related eigenvalues and eigenvectors determine initial stages of SARS-CoV-2 infections during which virus load increases. In contrast, the time-dependent eigenvalues show a sign-switching phenomenon that indicates when the virus dynamics switches from the growth stage (increasing virus load) to the decay stage (decreasing virus load). The virus dynamics model was a standard three-variable virus dynamics model frequently used in the literature.