Viral load in asymptomatic and symptomatic patients same, South Korean study finds

A South Korean study has found that people who have coronavirus but asymptomatic tend to carry as much of the virus than those with symptoms.

South Korea was able to identify and isolate asymptomatic cases through mass testing as early as the start of March.

Researchers however were unable to find out how many people got the virus from asymptomatic patients.

People with a positive coronavirus test were monitored in a community treatment centre, allowing scientists to look at how much of the virus was detectable in their nose and throat swabs.

They were given regular tests, and only released once they were negative.

Results of 1,886 tests suggest people with no symptoms at the time of the test, including those who never go on to develop symptoms, have the same amount of viral material in their nose and throat as people with symptoms.

The study also showed the virus could be detected in asymptomatic people for significant periods of time – although they appeared to clear it from their systems slightly faster than people with symptoms.

The median time from being diagnosed to receiving a negative test was 17 days in asymptomatic patients and 19.5 days in symptomatic patients.

Because of the nature of the isolation centre, the study didn’t include people with severe cases of the disease. They were also younger and healthier than average.