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Asymptomatic coronavirus carriers have high viral loads: study
This undated handout image obtained July 28, 2020, courtesy of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases(NIH/NIAID), shows a colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell (blue) heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (red), isolated from a patient sample.
AFP/US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Asymptomatic coronavirus carriers have high viral loads: study

(Agence France-Presse) - August 7, 2020 - 7:46am

WASHINGTON, United States — People who are infected with the coronavirus carry similar levels of the pathogen in their nose, throat and lungs whether they have symptoms or not, a new study from South Korea showed Thursday.

The paper, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, is an important biological line of evidence in support of the idea that asymptomatic carriers can spread COVID-19.

Until now, experts have relied on inferring asymptomatic spread when people contract the virus without contact with a known carrier.

A team of researchers led by Seungjae Lee at Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine analyzed swabs taken between March 6 and March 26 from 303 people isolated at a center in Cheonan, following an outbreak among a religious group in another city.

The group ranged in age from 22 to 36 and two-thirds were women. Of the total, 193 were symptomatic and 110 were asymptomatic.

Among those who were initially asymptomatic, 89 never developed symptoms at all -- about 30 percent of the total.

This finding itself helps gives a sense of what portion of infected people are truly asymptomatic rather than merely "presymptomatic," a subject of confusion.

All were sampled at regular intervals after day eight of isolation, and the samples returned comparable values of the virus' genetic material from the upper and lower airways.

The median time taken for the patients to return negative tests was marginally less for asymptomatic patients compared with symptomatic: 17 and 19.5 days, respectively.

The authors wrote their findings "offer biological plausibility" to reports of asymptomatic transmission.

But they added that their study only looked at the amount of viral genetic material present and did not attempt to follow the subjects to see if that translated to the spread of infectious virus.

ASYMPTOMATIC NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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LATEST UPDATE: May 14, 2021 - 9:00am

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May 14, 2021 - 9:00am

The top US health agency on Thursday said it was lifting mask-wearing guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a watershed moment that President Joe Biden called "a great day" in the long pandemic fight.

The announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) marked an abrupt turnaround after more than a year of urging people to cover their faces to stem the spread.

"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during a briefing.

"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic." — AFP

May 13, 2021 - 3:30pm

At the peak of Kenya's third wave of COVID-19 in March, hospitals — buckling under the strain of the virus — saw their oxygen reserves fizzle out. 

Since then, they have been scrambling to increase capacity of the lifesaving element, fearing the nightmare scenario currently unfolding in India due to oxygen shortages.

On the roof of the Metropolitan Hospital, a 150-bed private institution that targets the middle class, a brand-new oxygen production unit has just been installed that is capable of producing up to 600 liters of the gas per minute.

Metropolitan CEO Kanyenje Gakombe said the hospital accelerated plans to produce its own oxygen after supplies were squeezed to the limit during the height of the third wave, fanned by the variants of the coronavirus first detected in Britain and South Africa.

In April Kenya registered a record 571 deaths, and the health ministry warned hospitals were overrun with fewer than 300 patients in the Intensive Care Unit and fewer than 2,000 hospitalised countrywide. — AFP

May 12, 2021 - 6:19pm

The catastrophic scale of the Covid-19 pandemic could have been prevented had the warning signs been heeded, the global panel investigating the world's coronavirus response concluded Wednesday.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response blamed a "toxic cocktail" of dithering and poor coordination, said the World Health Organization could have sounded the alarm sooner, and urged rich countries to donate one billion vaccine doses by September, in its long-awaited final report. —  AFP

May 12, 2021 - 12:36pm

Official data show India's coronavirus death toll surpassed 250,000 on Wednesday as the pandemic raged across the vast country of 1.3 billion people.

According to the health ministry, 4,205 people died in the past 24 hours -- a new record -- taking total fatalities to 254,197. 

The number of cases rose almost 350,000 to 23.3 million, the second-highest after the United States. — AFP

May 12, 2021 - 9:03am

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that a variant of COVID-19 behind the acceleration of India's explosive outbreak has been found in dozens of countries all over the world.

The UN health agency said the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, first found in India in October, had been detected in sequences uploaded to the GISAID open-access database "from 44 countries in all six WHO regions," adding it had received "reports of detections from five additional countries".  — AFP

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