How long before I show signs and symptoms?
Available evidence supports that half of those infected will display symptoms of the illness five days following exposure, with 97.5% developing signs and symptoms of the illness within 12 days of exposure to COVID-19.
Data culled from 181 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, whose exposure to an individual with COVID-19 had been confirmed and whose onset of symptoms was documented, provided the evidence for these conclusions about incubation. Although some developed symptoms between 12-14 days following exposure, only 2.5% of the test group (approximately four individuals) fell within this parameter. Results of this study can be found here.
Clinical signs and symptoms of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 can be found here. If you have symptoms that are more significant than those reported here, seek treatment from your physician.
How long am I contagious?
Little data is available that provides an adequate answer to this question as there is insufficient data to understand for how long COVID-19 makes a person contagious. However, looking to the timeline of other viruses does add some perspective to this question.
Clarifying terminology is initially important. When discussing the period during which a disease can be transmitted from one person to another, the terms “contagious” or “infectious” are routinely used. “Viral shedding” is another term used by scientists and medical professionals to define this period of contagion. During a viral shedding period, the viral host can actively shed the disease to others when the illness is present in the host.
A study performed in Nicaragua to determine the transmission of influenza in children and adults can be used to understand the length of time a person is infectious or can “shed” the virus. Between 2012 and 2014, the period over which four influenza variants had been detected in hosts, 144 cases and 112 household contacts were enrolled in the study. Over a period of 10-14 days after testing positive via the QuickVue Influenza A+B rapid test (a qualitative nasal/oral swab test), five home visits were conducted during which additional respiratory samples were collected from the infected individuals, and those in the same household with the infected individual.
Results of this study revealed the following:
Why should this influenza investigation be used as a guide to understand COVID-19?
What does this influenza study reveal about COVID-19?
Although we still do not know how long viral shedding occurs before a person displays symptoms of COVID-19, or for how long he or she is infectious after symptoms are detected, the fact that a person can be contagious for this period explains the need for social distancing, hand washing and other sanitary measures.
In the United States, medications and tests utilized to asses medical conditions may only be introduced into the stream of commerce once they pass numerous, stringent requirements. However, when a public health emergency surfaces that could be managed effectively with products and therapies not yet approved, provisions in the law permit the FDA to fast track biologics, diagnostic tools and other medical equipment.
On February 4, 2020, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determined that COVID-19 posed a public heath emergency to U.S. citizens. By declaring this public health emergency, the Secretary of HHS triggered section 564(b)(1)(C) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In accordance with this provision, the FDA Commissioner may allow unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products, to be used to test for or to treat the life-threatening disease causing the health crisis. For each item approved to assess, treat or protect against COVID-19 during this time period, an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is issued.
To date, the following EUAs have been issued:
March 28, 2020
February 4, 2020
In the above list, 27 products have been approved to provide a qualitative assessment of COVID-19 in the upper and/or lower airway. Three of those products can be performed at the location where the patient is being tested. One additional product has been approved to test for antibodies in whole blood, serum or plasma.
Normally, it takes months or years to have a new test approved or to have a medication approved for off-label use. Under this circumstance, the speed with which these tests was developed is truly remarkable. Also, national testing will certainly be accomplished more rapidly as a result of the FDA’s issuance of these EUAs.
If you know someone who is exhibiting signs, tell that person to do a search for testing locations in or around their communities. As the number of companies approved to manufacture tests increases, the number of available tests will increase, and commensurately, the number of testing sites will increase. Early detection can help manage the virus.
QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE
Below is a link to the FDA website listing all EUAs issued to date in response to COVID-19: