Measuring SARS-CoV-2 Nucleic Acid in PCR test can Predict Future Symptomatic Disease

Pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals unknowingly transmit the virus to others. The incubation period for COVID-19 can be as long as 14 days. The risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus is high among healthcare workers as they are at high risk of viral exposure and passing it to vulnerable patients. A new study on frontline healthcare workers by researchers at the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden revealed that testing for the presence of high amounts of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid can help in containing the virus spread.

The researchers tested more than 9,400 healthcare workers for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and antibodies. The team found that high amounts of SARS-CoV-2  virus had the highest risk for sick leaves in the two weeks after being tested. Those who had low amounts of the virus had the highest risk for sick leave in the past three weeks before testing. The study concluded that the levels of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid are crucial for distinguishing between post-symptomatic and pre-symptomatic people. The presence of a high amount of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid predicts future symptomatic disease. 

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