Review confirms CDC guidance about infectivity of novel coronavirus

Anna Shvets/Pexels

A review of dozens of studies by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon State University suggests that people may shed the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for prolonged periods, but those with mild or no symptoms may be infectious for no more than about 10 days. However, people who are severely ill from COVID-19 may be infectious for as long as 20 days, according to the new review published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

The researchers identified 77 studies worldwide, including 59 that had been peer-reviewed, and combed through the results. All studies reported assessments of viral shedding using standard methods to identify the virus by replicating it through a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

The findings are in line with guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirming recommendations for the length of time people should isolate following infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Detection of viral RNA may not correlate with infectivity since available viral culture data suggests shorter durations of shedding of viable virus, the authors wrote in the study. Additional data is needed to determine the duration of shedding of viable virus and the implications for risk of transmission.

Editor's note: Click here for more information and ongoing COVID-19 updates for integrative healthcare professionals.