Why Viral Load May Determine the Severity of COVID Infections — And How You Can Protect Yourself

If there’s one constant during this unprecedented pandemic, it’s that our understanding of the disease is always changing. Every day brings new hope that we’ll eventually succeed in flattening the curve.

Unfortunately, nearly every positive headline is tempered by sobering news. Such is the case when exploring the concept of viral load, which can tell us a lot about who suffers the most from the disease — and why.

What Is Viral Load? How Does it Relate to COVID-19?

The term ‘viral load’ references the amount of a given virus found within a test sample taken from a specific patient. With COVID-19, the viral load is determined when detecting genomes within a nasopharyngeal swab. The calculated viral load determines to what extent the virus is able to replicate within the host. The higher the viral load, the more coronavirus particles are present within the patient in question.

The implications of a high viral load are far more complicated than they might seem at the outset. Research published in The Lancet suggests that patients who develop severe pneumonia typically have higher viral loads when first entering the hospital. Unfortunately, efforts to minimize viral load often prove fruitless. Still, it’s worth trying for the sake of your health and that of your community.

How to Limit Viral Load

The standard precautions for avoiding coronavirus also apply to attempts for reducing viral load. The further you can distance yourself from droplets, the better. Key strategies include:

  • Maintaining at least six feet of separation.
  • Wearing a mask when out in public.
  • Keeping your distance if a member of your household becomes ill.

Health care professionals may work hard in the interest of protecting the public, but medical malpractice remains an alarming reality. Now, more than ever, negligent employees must be held accountable. Contact Regan Zambri Long PLLC for more information.