Home » Health » A longer incubation period may complicate the fight against coronavirus | World Events – Estimates and Predictions from Germany and Europe | DW

A longer incubation period may complicate the fight against coronavirus | World Events – Estimates and Predictions from Germany and Europe | DW

The incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, that is, the period from infection to the onset of symptoms, is usually 2 to 14 days. The World Health Organization (WHO), the German Robert Koch Institute and the German Ministry of Health continue to proceed from this period. Accordingly, those who are suspected of being infected are quarantined for two weeks.

The average incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 was three days

Most often, the first symptoms appear after three days. This was found out by the leading epidemiologist of China Zhong Nanshan, the head of the national group of experts on the fight against lung diseases. His team investigated 1099 SARS-CoV-2 infections in 552 hospitals in China.

Zhong Nanshan

Zhong Nanshan

However, these are preliminary results that need further study, says Zhong Nanshan, who discovered SARS coronavirus in 2003 during an outbreak of SARS in 2003.

In rare cases, the incubation period for a new coronavirus can be up to 24 days, the study says, which was published on the medical research platform medRxiv on February 9, 2020. It states, in particular, that “the average incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 was three days (its limits are from 0 to 24 days).”

Individual cases or improper control?

A report by the government of the Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the spread of the new virus, which noted that a 70-year-old man showed symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 only 27 days after infection, became a sensation a few days ago.

Checking temperature in Wuhan residents, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic

Checking temperature in Wuhan residents, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic

Nevertheless, such individual cases are significant only to a limited extent, according to a German expert, virologist Christian Drosten from the Charite clinic in Berlin. “A common source of errors with a seemingly very long incubation period is an imperceptible intermediate effect,” explained Drosten.

He sees no reason to change previous estimates of the incubation period of the new coronavirus. In his opinion, only strictly controlled conditions can exclude the possibility that the victims were exposed to the pathogen several times in a row.

Different people react to coronavirus at different rates.

According to Thomas Pietschmann, molecular virology specialist at Twincore, the Center for Experimental and Clinical Research on Infections, it is not surprising that different patients respond differently to pathogens. And, therefore, the duration of the incubation period in different patients varies significantly.

Jonas Schmidt-Chanazit in a protective mask

Jonas Schmidt-Chanazit

“Viruses have different properties regarding how they spread in the body of the carrier and at the same time suppress its immunity. And such processes lead to the fact that it takes longer or that, on the contrary, the virus is recognized earlier, and its symptoms appear,” Pitschman pointed out in an interview with DW.

It gradually becomes clear that in some cases, the incubation period lasts much longer, continues Professor Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the German Center for Infectious Research. But in the vast majority of people infected with coronavirus, symptoms appeared within a week.

People in Seoul in protective masks.

After China, the highest number of new coronavirus cases was detected in South Korea.

“It was still an unknown virus, we only found out about it two months ago, and now we have more patients and more cases that can be studied. And with that – more and more data that show that in some cases – it’s worth emphasizing once again – the incubation period can be longer, even over a month. But most patients get sick within a week, this is the bulk. And we work on this basis, “Schmidt-Chanazit DW said.

What does a longer incubation period of coronavirus mean?

However, if the incubation period of the new coronavirus is actually significantly longer than 14 days, this can significantly affect efforts to contain the epidemic. Because then regular quarantine in two weeks will not be enough.

For example, if many Chinese workers and employees return from their two-week forced leave to their factories, this may, in certain circumstances, lead to a second wave of infection.

Therefore, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato urged all passengers and crew members of the Diamond Prinzess cruise ship to stay home for another two weeks after quarantine on board the ship for two weeks. Since the virus was detected in two Australians only at home, although they did not find anything at Diamond Prinzess.

Incomprehensible methods of infection

In addition to worrying about the longer incubation period of SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization (WHO) is also concerned about often obscure infection routes and cases of infections where there is no clear epidemiological link, WHO Director General Tedros Adan Gebreius acknowledged on Twitter.

According to him, many people became infected with the new coronavirus, although they were not in China and did not communicate with anyone who was diagnosed with it. This confirms the current widespread assumption that SARS-CoV-2 can be distributed by people who have no symptoms of infection at all or are mild.

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