KEY POINTS

  • Coronavirus has shown its ability to spread at an incredible speed
  • A new study reveals a high viral load has something to do with the speed
  • The viral load of the deadly virus is at its peak at the onset of symptoms

The deadly coronavirus has caused governments of countries like Italy, Spain, and the UK to go on total lockdown. Some states in the US, such as New York, are also seriously considering such measures.

coronavirus new study show how easily the disease spreads coronavirus new study show how easily the disease spreads Photo: Gerd Altmann - Pixabay

Scientists and health experts have been baffled at the tremendous speed by which the pathogen has spread around the world. It has also managed to take down economies with it, shutting down entire industries and causing the majority of people to stay within their homes. A recent study has discovered how the deadly pathogen did it.

A Deadly Viral Load

The research, which was led by Dr. Kwok-Yung Yuen of the University of Hong Kong–Shenzhen Hospital, found that coronavirus is most infectious when people start to develop symptoms. His research team, which is part of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infection Control, examined 23 patients who have been admitted to hospitals in Hong Kong.

Dr. Yuen’s team inspected the saliva of patients and measured the amount of SARS-CoV-2 it contained. They found out that the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 is at its highest when symptoms first appeared, and then it steadily declined as time goes by.

Their findings, which were published in The Lancet, an international medical journal, stated that this could be the reason for the lightning-speed nature of the pandemic. The research team also found that the SARS-CoV-2 viral load appeared similar to that of influenza, which normally peaks during the onset of symptoms.

Different From Other Coronaviruses

According to Dr. Yuen, the viral load and its peak time are different from other coronaviruses that caused MERS and SARS. The two strains possess a viral load that peaks approximately 10 days after the manifestation of symptoms.

The researchers also said that the high viral load holds the key as to why SARS-CoV-2 was easily transmitted even when symptoms are mild. Their findings have shown the efficiency by which the virus transmits from one person to the next in a healthcare or community setting.

Dr. Yuen also said that old age might be linked to a higher SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the saliva. His research team also said traces of SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid can still be detected for 20 days in one-third of the patients involved in the study who survived.

According to Dr. Yuen, their findings underscore the importance of strict infection control as well as early utilization of strong antiviral agents either alone or in combination with high-risk persons. This is the reason why people who are showing SARS-CoV-2 infection symptoms must stay home and self-isolate for at least seven days.

Coronaviruses Cause Infections In Humans and Animals

On the part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, it confirmed that coronaviruses typically circulate among humans. The National Health Service, for its part, said that Coronaviruses usually cause infections in both animals and humans. SARS-CoV-2 is a new coronavirus previously unknown to scientists and health experts.

The NHS said that a lot of pandemics that are believed to have been due to viruses have only been found in animals in the past. After undergoing mutation, the viruses then became capable of transmitting to humans.