Forum Medical Report: Viral load–a new test for corona patients.

Doctors observe patients through the glass in ICU. Viral load testing will help guide therapy and prognosis. AP photo.


High virial loads predict a more dangerous situation.



The New York Times (12/29,reports that “dozens of research papers published over the past few months found that people whose bodies were teeming with the coronavirus more often became seriously ill and more likely to die, compared with those who carried much less virus and were more likely to emerge relatively unscathed.” The results “suggest that knowing the so-called viral load – the amount of virus in the body – could help doctors predict a patient’s course, distinguishing those who may need an oxygen check just once a day, for example, from those who need to be monitored more closely, said Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease physician at Columbia University in New York.”


Medical Commentary:  Paul Goldfinger, MD

It seems intuitive that measuring the amount of coronavirus would correlate with severity.  But measuring viral load has not been routine. Florida is a leader in this requiring all labs to measure viral load along with other coronavirus tests.

The FDA just approved viral load measurements to be made wherever coronavirus patients are being tested. Doctors are enthused about this test, and as the clinical data rolls in, the usefulness of the test will be clarified and sharpened.

In my own experience, we routinely cared for influenza victims, but viral load was never measured. On the other hand infectious disease specialists have been quantifying viral load in HIV patients for years, finding the test to be hugely helpful in assessing the severity and prognosis of disease.

Tropicana Forum will be bringing unique medical reports to you.  Physicians receive daily medical news from the AMA which are often spearheaded by medical reporting in the media.  I try to select information that maybe you haven’t heard about.