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Incubation period of the novel coronavirus compared to other viruses, 2020

The incubation period for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is estimated to range from one to 14 days, but there are some indications that it could be up to 24 days. In comparison, seasonal influenza has an incubation period of about two days but can range from one to four days.

How do viruses invade the body?

An incubation period refers to the time between being infected by a virus and starting to show symptoms. The cycle of the SARS-CoV-2 virus begins by entering the body, attaching to a host cell, and injecting its viral RNA. The viral RNA hijacks the tools of the host cell to make copies of itself and protein shells, which will become new homes for the molecules. Successful infection is complete when the viral particles are released outside the cell, where they can start another round of infections. Symptoms of COVID-19 commonly take around five days to appear.

Understanding how vaccines work

There is currently no cure for the COVID-19 disease, and the search for an effective vaccine is an urgent public health priority. Vaccines are a preemptive defense against viruses, exposing the body to an inactive or weakened form of the pathogen – its lack of strength prevents the patient from developing the disease. The vaccine primes the body’s immune system by launching antibodies, which are proteins made by some immune cells that can be used to fight viruses. The immune system stores the pathogen in its memory, which allows for a faster response should the real virus ever attack the body.

Currently known incubation period for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) compared to other viruses as of February 2020

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Release date

February 2020



Survey time period

as of February 23, 2020

Supplementary notes

* Estimate of either 2-14 or 0-24 days; range will be most likely narrowed down as more data becomes available.

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Statistics on "Coronavirus (COVID-19) in India"

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