Analysis of Covid-19 cases in Wuhan suggests that the average time between infection and the onset of symptoms is 7 days.
Fighting the Covid-19 pandemic requires more than just developing a vaccine. In fact, it would be impossible to develop a vaccine or effective treatment options without understanding how the disease works. And that is what scientists have been doing since the first cases of the disease were reported, in late 2019, in Wuhan, China.
One aspect of the disease that scientists have been studying is the incubation period – the time between infection and symptom onset. Current estimates indicate that this happens between four and five days, but more research is needed to prove this.
In a study published this week in the journal Science Advances, Chinese scientists presented the results of a study involving 1084 patients with confirmed cases of Covid-19 who live or had traveled to Wuhan.
To conduct the investigation, they used public health data to find out when the infections occurred. Then, they selected pre-symptomatic individuals and watched them carefully until symptoms appeared.
The researchers calculated that the average incubation period is 7.75 days, with 10% of patients taking 14 days to show signs of the disease. This is a problem because, currently, that is the period of self-quarantine considered safe for people who may have become infected.
But the authors themselves consider that more research is still needed to investigate this issue. Nevertheless, continuing to study the incubation period is important, according to Chinese scientists, to establish more accurate and safe guidelines against Covid-19.