Viral load of a population correlate with rate of Covid spread in that area: Research

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on October 19, 2020

The viral levels in people infected with Covid-19 in a specific town or city could be used to assess whether the epidemic there has passed its peak, Nature journal said on Monday.

A common test for Covid allows doctors to measure an infected person’s ‘viral load’, an indicator of the amount of virus in their body.

Researcher James Hay at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, and his colleagues, used epidemiological modelling to show that the viral loads of a population correlate with the rate of viral spread in that population, the multidisciplinary journal said.

Early in an epidemic, the average infected person has been recently exposed to the virus and therefore has a high viral load. Later in the epidemic, the average infected person has had the virus for longer and has a low viral load, the journal said.

As a result, a snapshot of the viral-load distribution in a random sample of a population can reveal whether cases in that population are on the rise or are declining, the researchers say. They add that their method is less susceptible to biases from changing Covid-testing practices than simply counting daily cases. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed, the journal added.

Published on October 19, 2020

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