Viral load exposure versus viral dose exposure – frequent small amounts versus one large exposure – determines how ill you become from exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It has been repeatedly been shown that this will affect the severity of your illness and outcome. Makes perfect sense when you know that the body can start to develop an immune response (mount a defense) if it is exposed in frequent small amounts of a foreign substance (in this case virus) as opposed to receiving a large dose all at once. Time to mount a response can be critical. 

Simply put a large exposure to SARS-CoV-2 is more likely to trigger severe COVID-19 and poor outcomes.

An illustration in humans is the cruise ship that left Argentina in March. All passengers wore masks almost all who were positive by end of the cruise were asymptomatic. True evidence that universal masking may result in a higher proportion of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. 

Prospective studies in humans can’t ethically be undergone, but multiple animal studies support this very principle.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Monica Gandhi, MD, and George Rutherford, MD, of the University of California in San Francisco, postulate that ‘masking’ may act as a “variolation,” exposing individuals to a smaller amount of viral particles and producing an immune response. Further, they write “the initial dose of virus that a patient takes in, is one likely determinant of ultimate illness severity.”

Is the size of the viral load found in a person that determines the outcome?  A South Korea-based study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that viral load was no different in asymptomatic patients versus those with symptoms. Our bodies are so very complicated, one simple explanation/process does not apply to all of us. 

It must be how you got to that load slowly or all at once. I believe viral load makes a difference, no matter the bottom line –

Wear a Mask!