Viral load peaks in the early stages of Sars-CoV-2 infection

Hyperaxion Jul 14, 2020

Researchers concluded that higher viral loads are associated with a shorter duration of symptoms and that there is no relationship to the severity of each case.

Researchers at New York University found that the viral load of Sars-CoV-2 is significantly higher in patients with mild symptoms than in patients who needed hospitalization. The study, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Pathology, indicates that patients with a history of cancer or cardiovascular disease also have higher viral loads.

Viral load peaks in the early stages of Sars-CoV-2 infection
(Credit: PIRO4D / Pixabay).

The study looked at 205 patients with Covid-19 who visited the emergency room in a New York call center – 165 people were discharged and 40 were hospitalized. According to the scientists, the average interval between the appearance of symptoms and the testing of patients was five days among those hospitalized compared to three days for those discharged.

The researchers found that the viral load at the beginning of the infection was significantly lower in patients who needed hospitalization compared to those who were discharged. The association remained significant even considering factors linked to severe Covid-19, such as age, sex, race, body mass index, and other pre-existing medical conditions.

Normalized viral load values in 205 hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients (p=0.014) showing significant higher viral load in the latter population. (Credit: The American Journal of Pathology).

The team also found that a higher viral load was associated with a shorter duration of symptoms in all patients and was not related to the severity of the disease. “It appears that the viral load peaks in the early stages of the disease,” said Paolo Cotzia, co-author of the study, in a statement.

In the study, the evolution of the amount of viral load in patients with mild and moderate cases of Covid-19 was not investigated. Still, they believe their findings already show evidence of these people’s ability to infect others. “Our study should increase awareness and should prompt the adherence to strict recommendation of social distancing and mask usage to avoid transmission,” the researchers concluded.

Related topics:

Coronavirus Covid-19


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