How Quickly Can SARS-CoV-2 Spread from Person to Person Contact?

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Image by UCSF Health

Recently, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin has looked at the transmission of the novel coronavirus from one person to another. More specifically, they have assessed the spread of SARS-CoV-2 via people who have not displayed any symptoms or the ‘silent transmission’ of the infection.

Previously, statistics along with supporting studies have highlighted that the coronavirus infection is more likely to spread through people who do not show any signs of having the health condition rather than those who can be observed to have all the symptoms.

According to health experts, this happens because people with symptoms such as a runny nose, fever, and coughing have been seen to isolate themselves and stay at home rather than going out in public places.

On the other hand, the majority of the people who carry the virus but do not experience similar symptoms are usually not aware of having it in the first place. Consequently, they are more likely to spend time in public and with other people which raises the risk of transmission of the virus significantly.

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This is the reason why the World Health Organization has prompted countries around the world to take drastic measures and impose restrictions on public gatherings, educational institutions, travel, and even markets for the time being since coronavirus infection has become a global pandemic.

Statistically, over 175,000 people have been affected by the infection around the globe. Secondly, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that the infection is also likely to spread and impact a large portion of the population within the US.

Overall, the novel coronavirus infection cases seem to increase at a faster than estimated rate globally with China and Italy being the most severely affected.

In addition, many countries, particularly those in Southeast Asia are having issues in controlling the spread of the infection. Till now, experts have predicted a complete lockdown in many countries, especially those in Europe, to prevent further spread.

At the same time, many clinical trials are being held in order to find faster treatment and vaccines for coronavirus infection. Researchers are also increasingly working to examine different behaviors of the virus and its spread for better understanding.

The new research, whose findings will soon appear in the journal Emerging Infectious Disease, also looks at one very important aspect of the coronavirus pandemic which can potentially help control it – its transmission.

To do so, the researchers at the University of Texas also involved scientists from Hong Kong, France, and China. One of the main two factors of the study was how many people can a person carrying the virus infect.

The other factor was the time or the ‘serial interval’ between a person developing the symptoms and another person catching the infection and having early progression signs.

It was discovered that the time between an already infected and newly infected person for SARS-CoV-2 was around four days. Shorter serial intervals like these mean the pandemic is likely to be hard to control and easier to spread.

The researchers also discovered that in nearly ten percent of the examined cases, the silent transmission had taken place. This means that the infected person had contracted the coronavirus infection from another asymptomatic person.

These findings show why it is better to stay indoors and avoid public spaces and gatherings until the coronavirus pandemic is controlled.

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