On 13 July, a study reported that novel Coronavirus may produce defective “spurious” particles that cause some asymptomatic patients to test positive for the pathogen.
About 20 percent of coVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, and some researchers worry that these “silent spreaders” are spreading the seeds of the epidemic around the world.
It’s not clear why some people don’t show symptoms, but the new study suggests that these cases shouldn’t be a big concern.
A cell infected with a novel Coronavirus may release a large number of unknown particles, researchers said in a study published Tuesday.
The particles contain incomplete coronavirus genes and are not coated with a protective membrane.
Some of the particles look smaller than normal, and many are irregularly shaped.
This is the first time scientists have found such particles near a cell infected with a Novel Coronavirus, and what those particles are is unclear.
The researchers suspected that the particles were defective interference particles, or DIP.
The DIP is an inaccurate copy of the virus produced during replication.
The novel Coronavirus gene is stored in a single strand, relatively loose RNA that is prone to replication errors, such as missing protein-related genes.
“There was a slight deletion of the genome with a large number of particles,” the study said.
These particles can “explain asymptomatic infections at the molecular level.”
Some researchers have suggested that asymptomatic carriers may be the initial cause of the surge in cases in some countries, but so far there is no evidence that the virus is multiplying.
Such concerns prompted WHO in April to withdraw a statement that novel Coronavirus is unlikely to be transmitted by an asymptomatic patient.
But another epidemiologist says the new study may support the WHO’s initial assessment.
But the epidemiologist added that the study “probably raises more questions than answers.”
This is because the defective particles may also have hitched a ride with the entire virus, helping to infect the host cell once it had entered.
The particles were detected in a small number of intact viruses, the report said.
They said it was unclear whether they might cause some symptoms.
The researchers also found evidence that a major novel coronavirus strain that has spread in Europe and the United States is more infectious because it contains more spike proteins.