Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have provided an updated estimate of the incubation period for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the agent causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Initial estimates made during the early stages of the pandemic ranged from around 4 to 7 days.
However, numerous reports have since emerged, estimating an incubation period of anything from one to 34 days.
Currently, governments are planning their mitigation strategies based on a maximum incubation period of 14 days.
The minimum incubation period ranged from 1 to 9 days and the maximum incubation period ranged from 4 to 34 days. The mean incubation period (based on 30 studies) was 6.71, with 95% confidence intervals ranging from 1 to 12.4 days.
Now, Prakashini Banka and Catherine Comiskey have conducted a modeling study highlighting the variability in this period, including the potential for incubation that extends beyond 14 days.
An accurate estimate of the incubation period distribution for SARS-CoV-2 is essential for modeling the virus’s spread and the effectiveness of control measures.
Banka and Comiskey warn that since the incubation period may be longer than initially estimated, detailed surveillance of self-isolation periods and other protective measures is now needed.