Not experiencing Covid symptoms? You could be just as likely to pass on Covid warns study

Covid-19: Sir Patrick Vallance warns 'virus hasn't gone away'

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Symptomatic cases are surging in the UK, the latest Zoe Covid Study figures show. In total there are 349,011 currently new daily symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average. The sharp increase comes as the Government scraps free testing in England for the majority of people. More than ever, the onus falls on the general public to act on the warning signs. However, a new study provides little comfort on this front.

The world’s first “human challenge” trial in which volunteers were deliberately exposed to the coronavirus has found that symptoms had no effect on how likely an infected person is to pass the disease on to others.

The deliberate infection trial found Covid symptoms didn’t indicate viral shedding.

The research project, run by Open Orphan with Imperial College, London, showed that among the 18 participants that caught COVID-19, the severity of symptoms, or whether they developed symptoms at all, had nothing to do with the viral load in their airways.

The viral load, or tendency to shed the virus, was measured by two methods known as focus-forming assay (FFA) and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).

“There was no correlation between the amount of viral shedding by qPCR or FFA and symptom score,” the researchers said in a paper published by scientific journal Nature Medicine.

The Imperial trial exposed 36 healthy young adults without a history of infection or vaccination to the original SARS-CoV-2 strain of the virus and monitored them in a quarantined setting.

Since two volunteers were found to have had antibodies against the virus after all, they were excluded from the analysis. Slightly more than half of them contracted the virus.

No serious adverse events occurred, and the human challenge study model was shown to be safe and well tolerated in healthy young adults, the research team had said earlier this year.

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The findings underscore the difficulty in preventing community infections amid rising cases.

There are promising signs that the current wave is cresting, however.

Zoe data shows new cases rates have begun falling in the youngest age group (0-17 year-olds) and in the 34-55 year-olds.

New cases have stopped rising or are slowing down in the rest of the age groups.

The Zoe Covid Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on reports from around 840,000 weekly contributors and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests.

The latest survey figures were based on data from 70,779 recent swab tests done on symptomatic cases in the two weeks up to 29 March 2022.

Commenting on the latest data, Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe Covid Study app: “While Covid cases continue to soar to all-time highs, the rate of increase is showing signs of slowing down.

“This is a promising sign that we’ll hopefully see case numbers beginning to drop once again. However, as the Government cuts off free testing and all restrictions are lifted it’s difficult to predict where things will go from here.

“Whilst LFTs [lateral flow tests] are no longer free, we’re pleased to see early data from 100,000 Zoe Covid Study contributors that suggest LFT accuracy remains high. The data shows LFTs are almost 80 percent effective in detecting positive cases and as high as 97 percent accurate in identifying negative cases.

“This should reassure everyone that LFTs remain a valuable tool for monitoring Covid and everyone should have a small supply to test themselves when they have cold-like symptoms.”

According to Professor Spector, runny nose is now the “predominant” symptom of Covid, accounting for over 80 percent of all symptomatic cases.

Other cold-like symptoms reported include:

  • Sneezing
  • Persistent cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Other
  • Chills or shivers
  • Unusual joint pains
  • Fever
  • Dizzy
  • Brain fog
  • Eye soreness
  • Altered smell
  • Unusual muscle pains
  • Lower back pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Skipped meals
  • Chest pain.

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