Higher SARS-CoV-2 Viral Loads in Asymptomatic Patients Compared to Symptomatic Patients

COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe with more than 1.5 million deaths recorded globally. Various studies have shown that asymptomatic carriers can spread the virus even if they do not manifest any symptoms. A new study reveals that asymptomatic COVID-19 patients have greater viral loads. The researchers evaluated viral loads of six different sample types of patients of different ages to determine the relationship between disease course and SARS-CoV-2 viral load.

COVID-19 is a challenging and novel disease, as the disease evolves, new information emerges. In the study, researchers collected nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, rectal, saliva, urine, and blood samples from patients who were hospitalized due to COVID-19. A total of 360 samples were collected from 60 patients. Amongst these, 25% did not symptoms and 75% were symptomatic.

The results revealed that the viral load of the asymptomatic patients were higher compared with symptomatic patients. The viral load had a negative trend with increasing age, while a significant decrease in viral loads was seen with increasing disease severity. Factors ties to poor prognosis such as low lymphocyte count, bilateral ground-glass opacity in chest x-ray, and older age correlated with low SARS-CoV-2 viral load.  

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Ref link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s15010-020-01548-8