Do patients with severe COVID-19 have different viral shedding patterns from mild patients?
This article by HKU School of Public Health researchers published in Lancet Infectious Diseases examined viral shedding patterns among patients with mild and severe COVID-19. In this study, patients with severe symptoms were significantly older than those with mild COVID-19, and patients with severe COVID-19 tend to have higher viral loads compared to patients with milder symptoms. The average viral load in severe cases was about 60 times higher than that of mild cases, and viral loads in severe cases remained significantly higher than mild cases up to 12 days after onset. Severe cases were also found to shed the virus longer, with all severe cases still testing positive at or beyond 10 days after symptom onset compared with only 10% of mild cases testing positive beyond 10 days after symptom onset. This indicated that patients with severe COVID-19 may tend to have higher viral loads and longer virus-shedding period, and suggested that viral load may be useful for assessing the severity and prognosis of COVID-19 infections.
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