Among the thousands of scientific studies being conducted around the world seeking to defeat the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that emerged in an animal market in Wuhan, China in late 2019, one investigation found that half of the Patients who were treated for mild infection with COVID-19 still had coronaviruses for up to eight days after symptoms disappeared.
In the study called Kinetics of the time of viral clearance and resolution of symptoms in the new coronavirus infection, doctors Lixin Xie and Lokesh Sharma reported on a study of 16 patients with COVID-19, who were treated and given Discharge from the PLA General Hospital Treatment Center in Beijing between January 28 and February 9, 2020. The patients studied had an average age of 35.5 years.
The researchers collected throat swab samples taken from all patients on alternate days and analyzed. Patients were discharged after recovery and confirmation of negative viral status by at least two consecutive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.RELATED
“The most significant finding of our study is that half of the patients continued to clear the virus even after resolution of their symptoms,” said co-author Dr Sharma, a professor in the Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care and Sleep , at the Yale School of Medicine. “More serious infections can have even longer elimination times,” he added.
The main symptoms in these patients included fever, cough, pain in the pharynx (pharyngalgia) and difficult or difficult breathing (dyspnea). To alleviate those symptoms, they were all treated with a variety of experimental medications including various drugs that he is currently testing.
According to the researchers, the time from infection to the onset of symptoms (incubation period) was 5 days among all but one patient. The average duration of symptoms was 8 days, while the time that the patients remained contagious after the end of their symptoms ranged from 1 to 8 days. Two patients had diabetes and one had tuberculosis, but none of them were affected in the course of COVID-19 infection and did not require intensive therapy or artificial respiration admission.
“If someone has mild respiratory symptoms from COVID-19 and stays home to avoid infecting people, extend their quarantine for another two weeks after recovery to make sure they do not infect other people,” he recommended to those who have positive diagnosis of the virus, corresponding author, Lixin Xie, MD, professor, College of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, PLA Chinese General Hospital, Beijing.
The authors sent a special message to the medical community: “COVID-19 patients can be infectious even after their symptomatic recovery, so treat asymptomatic / recently recovered patients as carefully as symptomatic patients.”
The researchers emphasized that all of these patients had milder infections and recovered from the disease, and that the study looked at a small number of patients. They noted that it is unclear whether similar results would be valid for more vulnerable patients such as the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, and patients on immunosuppressive therapy.
“More studies are needed to investigate whether the virus detected by real-time PCR is capable of transmission in the later stages of COVID-19 infection,” concluded Dr. Xie.