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How Does “Viral Load” Impact The Severity Of A COVID Infection?

It’s time to take a look at recent coronavirus news and distinguish fact from fiction. With infection rates still increasing in many parts of the US, it’s important to stay informed with accurate information so you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Virus protection is precisely why we founded TenMasks — to equip people with the KN95 masks they need to stay safe, and the information they need to make smart decisions about their daily lives in the midst of this pandemic. So without further ado, let’s discuss the concept of ‘viral loads’!

You may have noticed, either in headlines or through the personal experience of others in your life, that COVID-19 can have a wide range of effects on those infected with it, from imperceptibly mild symptoms all the way up to severe health problems that require hospitalization to treat. Researchers have been trying to determine the reason for the variety in these outcomes, and one of the factors they’ve been studying is viral load. 

Viral load refers to the amount of virus particles one has in their body — in other words, just how sick you are with a virus. Some recent studies published in the Lanclet medical journal have found a correlation between viral load and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. While age and pre-existing conditions were also found to be corollary factors in the severity and outcome of the disease, higher viral loads were found to be a much better predictor of the severity and outcome of a COVID infection. 

So why does this matter? It’s important because with COVID, infection does not necessarily lead to disease. You’ve probably seen reports warning of asymptomatic people spreading the coronavirus unintentionally — these people have low viral loads… for now. Viral loads are highly variable, and they grow cumulatively, meaning that your risk of getting dangerously infected is just as high if you are continuously exposed to small amounts of the virus as it is if you are exposed to a large amount of the virus. 

Much like you can go to work with a small cough for a week before ending up sick in bed, you can increase your viral load to dangerous, infectious levels if you’re not careful. Viral loads are developed over time — they’re built up to risky, infectious levels with carelessness, but reduced to safe levels by wearing KN95 masks, practicing social distancing, and remaining vigilant for your and your loved ones’ health. Consider these common occurrences that are now infection risks in the age of COVID:

  •  A cough releases about 3,000 droplets at 50 miles per hour. Without a mask, these particles can cross an entire room.
  • A single breath releases anywhere from 50 to 5,000 droplets.
  • A sneeze releases about 30,000 droplets that travel at around 200 miles per hour.
  • An infected person’s sneeze or cough could send as many as 200 million COVID particles into the air.

It’s important to note here that when we refer to an infectious level or amount of COVID-19, we mean the amount of the virus that one needs to be exposed to get sick and experience noticeable symptoms. Researchers don’t yet know that the infectious amount is for COVID-19, but given the huge number of cases globally, the amount is likely to be quite small. 

The takeaway: your risk for infection with COVID-19 is dependent on both your viral load and the amount of time since you were first exposed. 

Ultimately, this research regarding viral loads understates the importance of wearing KN95 masks to slow the spread of coronavirus. Given that people can become infected with COVID over time with repeated exposures to the virus, and that people can carry trace amounts of the virus without knowing, it is clear that wearing a mask is the best way to keep yourself safe and help your community work toward eliminating the virus in your area. 

Our KN95 masks are the superior option when it comes to face mask protection. They offer you five layers of antiviral protection and are designed to give you a comfortable, breathable fit. Visit the TenMasks online store today and equip yourself with the masks you need to keep your viral load as low as possible!

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