Does being exposed to more coronavirus particles mean you will develop a more severe illness? Rumours circulating on social media suggest that hospital workers or their household members exposed to a higher “viral load” become sicker than the general population. But emerging research indicates the relationship between infection and covid-19 severity may be more complex – and differ from that of other respiratory illnesses. The average number of viral particles needed to establish an infection is known as the infectious dose. We don’t know what this is for covid-19 yet, but given how rapidly the disease is spreading, it is likely to be relatively low – in the region of a few hundred or thousand particles, says Willem van Schaik at the University of Birmingham, UK.

 

 

Eneas De Troya from Mexico City, México [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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