Open Accessibility Menu

What is Viral Load and Why Does it Matter?

  • Category: Coronavirus
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
What is Viral Load and Why Does it Matter?

We hear a lot of experts in the news referring to “viral load” when speaking about COVID-19, but what exactly does that mean and why does it matter?

Simply put, viral load is how much of the virus you have in your body. The more the virus has replicated, the higher your viral load will be, and the more infectious you likely are. The more virus you have in your airways, the more you will release when you exhale or cough, as you are experiencing more “viral shedding.” As a result, people in close contact could receive a high enough viral dose to be infected.

Researchers have found that the delta variant contains 1,000 times more viral material than the original novel coronavirus, which means it can replicate much faster and infect more people at a faster rate.

Viral load can also impact the severity of a COVID-19 illness. For example, some studies reported a higher viral load in people who were admitted to the hospital with severe pneumonia. These studies also reported that the viral loads remain higher for more days in patients with more severe disease. Other studies have found that some asymptomatic patients had similar viral loads to patients experience COVID-19 symptoms. This means that the viral load alone is not a clear predictor of disease outcome.

Getting vaccinated is your best protection, even for those who have had COVID-19. The vaccine works like a booster for your immune system giving the body a more robust response to any future infection. To schedule a vaccine today, visit