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New study reveals how we get sick from COVID

How do we get sick with COVID symptoms? A new study might have answers

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An illustration of the omicron variant.

How do we get sick with COVID symptoms? A new study might have answers

Illustration by Zoe Peterson, Deseret News

A new research study has discovered how we get sick from the novel coronavirus.

Why this matters: The discovery of how we get sick has come about two years after the pandemic first began, showing how infection can still happen.


Driving the news: The new research — which was published in the journal Nature Medicine — found that it takes one virus droplet, which is about the size of a human blood cell, to make us sick from COVID-19.

What they found: Out of 36 volunteers, 18 were infected by one single viral droplet, according to the study.

  • Two of these volunteers never developed COVID-19 symptoms.
  • About 10 microns of the virus can make someone sick.
  • People shed the virus a lot before they experience COVID symptoms.

Method: The researchers discovered this in a study that deliberately infected people with the coronavirus.

  • All of the participants “were allowed to participate only if they didn’t have any risk factors for severe Covid-19, such as being overweight, having reduced kidney or liver function, or having any heart, lung or blood problems,” according to CNN.
  • The study was also conducted in phases. The first 10 patients were given the antiviral drug remdesivir to reduce severe symptoms.
  • The researchers kept monoclonal antibodies available in case anyone got severe COVID-19, CNN reports.

The bigger picture: Research has been scarce about how much coronavirus it takes to make someone sick, per STAT News. It remains one of the most important aspects of research since it will change the way we understand the infection.