A study by German researchers, involving a small group of subjects, has found that virus shedding in Covid-19 patients happen early in the stage of illness.
Virus shedding (when the virus leaves its host) during illness is crucial to determine how infectious the disease may be.
The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, suggests that viral shedding occurred in high levels from the throat during early phases of illness for the patients studied. However, the rate of shedding dropped after the fifth day in all patients except for two experiencing signs of pneumonia. They continued to shed COVID-19 at high levels until the 10th or 11th day, according to researchers.
“The present study shows that COVID-19 can often present as a common cold-like illness. SARS-CoV-2 can actively replicate in the upper respiratory tract, and is shed for a prolonged time after symptoms end, including in stool,” the study authors wrote.
Scientists also found that people with COVID-19 may shed over 1,000 times more virus than emitted during peak shedding of the 2003 SARS infection. They say this could explain why COVID-19 has spread so rapidly.