Delta cases have a viral load 300 times higher, study says

People infected with the most transmissible Delta variant have a viral load 300 times higher than those with the original version of the covid-19 virus when symptoms begin to be seen, a study from South Korea revealed.




Illustration of a virus outside a regional science center in Oldham, UK August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Illustration of a virus outside a regional science center in Oldham, UK August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Photo: Reuters

But the value gradually declined over time, getting 30 times higher after four days, more than 10 times higher in nine days, and reaching levels seen in other variants after 10 days, reported the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KDCA) this Tuesday (24).

The higher load means the virus spreads much more easily from person to person, increasing infections and hospitalizations., said Lee Sang-won, a Ministry of Health official, at a news conference.

“But that doesn’t mean Delta is 300 times more infectious… we think its transmission rate is 1.6 times that of the Alpha variant, and about twice that of the original version of the virus,” Lee said.

The Delta variant of the new coronavirus was first identified in India, and Alpha in the UK.

To prevent the spread of the Delta variant, now the predominant strain around the world, the KDCA urged people to get tested immediately when they develop symptoms of covid-19 and to avoid face-to-face encounters.

Delta’s rapid proliferation and low vaccination rates catch much of Asia off guard, especially in emerging markets, as the economies of Europe and North America reactivate.