REPORT: Infectious disease expert clarifies alarming CDC report on coronavirus: ‘I’d think that’s unlikely’
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Researchers found traces of the new coronavirus on surfaces in cabins of the Diamond Princess 17 days after those who were quarantined on board disembarked, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
The novel virus’ RNA was found in the cabins of both asymptotic and symptomatic passengers before the surfaces were disinfected. The report didn’t specify what surfaces it was found on. The researchers wrote that they couldn’t tell whether disease transmission actually occurred from the contaminated surfaces, and that more research is needed.
The article goes on to state the following:
Tara C. Smith, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Kent State University, also pointed out that the researchers didn’t say how many rooms they found the RNA in or how common it was.
According to Smith, “Viral RNA doesn’t necessarily mean live virus was present.”
“Now you’re going to see ‘coronavirus can live on surfaces for 17 days!’ over and over, but we don’t know that based on this study and for those using live virus, it’s much shorter,” Smith wrote on Twitter.
Smith told Business Insider: “There could be infectious virus present, though I’d think that’s unlikely based on the other research that has shown SARSCoV2 generally dies on surfaces after 24-72 hours. We couldn’t say for sure unless someone did viral culture.”
Read Smith’s Twitter thread on the subject below:
“Quick thread on today’s @CDCMMWR paper on #coronavirus infections and transmission on cruise ships …, including the Diamond Princess (DP).
“From the top, the basic numbers: “Among 3,711 DP passengers & crew, 712 (19.2%) had positive test results for SARS-CoV-2… Of these, 331 (46.5%) were asymptomatic at the time of testing. Among 381 symptomatic patients, 37 (9.7%) required intensive care, and nine (1.3%) died.
“The ‘asymptomatic’ number is getting play already, but note the qualifier: ‘AT THE TIME OF TESTING.’ They didn’t report follow-up to show how many eventually developed symptoms. So many possibly still in incubation period.
“In the Discussion they add this: ‘Available statistical models of the Diamond Princess outbreak suggest that 17.9% of infected persons never developed symptoms’ –so based on models, and not the “half of those tested were asymptomatic” that I’ve already seen reported.
Seriously, cruise ships are nasty. ‘During February 3–March 13, in the U.S., approx 200 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed among returned cruise travelers from multiple ship voyages…accounting for approximately 17% of total reported U.S. cases at the time.’
“I’ve also seen this misrepresented already. ‘SARS-CoV-2 RNA was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic & asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the DP but before disinfection procedures had been conducted.’
“Say it with me: *viral RNA doesn’t necessarily mean live virus was present.* Now you’re going to see ‘coronavirus can live on surfaces for 17 days!’ over and over, but we don’t know that based on this study and for those using live virus, it’s much shorter.
“It does seem like those who weren’t showing symptoms can spread live virus, but that’s now expected given several other papers out over the few weeks. Again, how much this drives transmission is uncertain, but shows again why distancing & hygiene are key.”
From the top, the basic numbers: “Among 3,711 DP passengers & crew, 712 (19.2%) had positive test results for SARS-CoV-2… Of these, 331 (46.5%) were asymptomatic at the time of testing. Among 381 symptomatic patients, 37 (9.7%) required intensive care, and nine (1.3%) died. /2
— Dr. Tara C. Smith (@aetiology) March 24, 2020
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