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Published in: Infection 4/2022

18-08-2021 | COVID-19 | Review

Comprehensive estimation for the length and dispersion of COVID-19 incubation period: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors: Yongyue Wei, Liangmin Wei, Yihan Liu, Lihong Huang, Sipeng Shen, Ruyang Zhang, Jiajin Chen, Yang Zhao, Hongbing Shen, Feng Chen

Published in: Infection | Issue 4/2022

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Abstract

Purpose

To estimate the central tendency and dispersion for incubation period of COVID-19 and, in turn, assess the effect of a certain length of quarantine for close contacts in active monitoring.

Methods

Literature related to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 was searched through April 26, 2020. Quality was assessed according to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality guidelines. Log-normal distribution for the incubation period was assumed to estimate the parameters for each study. Incubation period median and dispersion were estimated, and distribution was simulated.

Results

Fifty-six studies encompassing 4095 cases were included in this meta-analysis. The estimated median incubation period for general transmissions was 5.8 days [95% confidence interval (95% CI): 5.3, 6.2]. Incubation period was significantly longer for asymptomatic transmissions (median: 7.7 days; 95% CI 6.3, 9.4) than for general transmissions (P = 0.0408). Median and dispersion were higher for SARS-CoV-2 incubation compared to other viral respiratory infections. Furthermore, about 12 in 10,000 contacts in active monitoring would develop symptoms after 14 days, or below 1 in 10,000 for asymptomatic transmissions. Meta-regression suggested that each 10-year increase in age resulted in an average 16% increment in length of median incubation (incubation period ratio, 1.16, 95% CI 1.01, 1.32; P = 0.0250).

Conclusion

This study estimated the median and dispersion of the SARS-CoV-2 incubation period more precisely. A 14-day quarantine period is sufficient to trace and identify symptomatic infections.
Appendix
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Metadata
Title
Comprehensive estimation for the length and dispersion of COVID-19 incubation period: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Authors
Yongyue Wei
Liangmin Wei
Yihan Liu
Lihong Huang
Sipeng Shen
Ruyang Zhang
Jiajin Chen
Yang Zhao
Hongbing Shen
Feng Chen
Publication date
18-08-2021
Publisher
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Published in
Infection / Issue 4/2022
Print ISSN: 0300-8126
Electronic ISSN: 1439-0973
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s15010-021-01682-x

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