A new medical study on the virus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19 has shown that it takes an estimate of around 5.1 days for the median disease incubation period—from the time of exposure to showing symptoms. Understanding that timeline is extremely vital to the development and execution of effective disease containment and prevention measures.
With the world in the grip of the COVID-19 outbreak, scientists and experts are urgently looking for more insight into the virus behind the disease—how it behaves, who it targets, how long it takes for infected people to show symptoms and how severe it can potentially get.
The study, entitled “The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application”, was led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States and published on Tuesday (Mar 10) in the online medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Its objectives were to estimate the length of the incubation period of COVID-19 and describe its public health implications.
The researchers conducted an analysis of publicly available data on infections from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19.
The study yielded an estimate of 5.1 days as the median time for the disease to incubate and begin displaying symptoms.
This median time from exposure to onset of symptoms suggests that it is largely harmonious and in accordance with earlier studies on the virus, which were published on Eurosurveillance, a European journal on infectious diseases, and in the US National Library of Medicine by the National Institute of Health.
All three studies support that the length of the 14-day quarantine period enforced by most governments and health bodies around the world is indeed reasonable.
The paper noted that the coronavirus’ median incubation period is 5.1 days,with most people developing symptoms within the span of 12 days.
In some cases, however, patients can display such mild symptoms, making the virus very difficult to detect.
Study co-author Justin Lessler, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that incubation numbers will “inevitably be refined as we get more information”, adding that having foresight is crucial for “thinking about controls such as quarantine and active monitoring”.