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How Important Is Duration Of Contagiousness?

We are learning so much more week by week as to epidemiological issues regarding the Covid-19 virus.  The statistics are pouring in now from U.S. data as to how many people are contracting the virus, the case fatality rate, who are the “risk” people for serious disease/death, etc etc.

The data we are not hearing about yet is concerning how long an infected person is contagious to others.  We do know that a number of people, especially younger ones, may be entirely asymptomatic yet be transmitting the virus to others.  But once again, how long is the person contagious, both sick ad asymptomatic people?

We do know the contagiousness of the influenza virus:  We are contagious starting about 24 hours before symptoms, 3-5 days thereafter and children can be contagious to others for 10 days.  People with weakened immune systems can be contagious to others for much longer.

Now, to a more specific group:  Overweight/obese people.   The inflammatory/immune systems are negatively impacted in people with poor weight control.  Concerning the impact on the influenza virus, studies have shown that the duration of contagiousness is increased in people that are obese.  Therefore, obese people present a greater danger to the population at large than non-obese people.  They will infect more people.

Will we eventually learn that Covid-carrying obese people have a longer duration of contagiousness than normal weight people?  The answer is most likely to be “yes”.

I certainly do not envision a future where normal weight individuals shy away from overweight/obese people from fear of contracting a virus.  Nor do I see a future where stadium/arena events will monitor people’s BMIs in addition to their temperatures.   However, the severity of the impact of the pandemic, both health-wise and economically, will have scrutiny placed on many epidemiological aspects, including who represents threats to others.

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