Experts discuss asymptomatic carriers, TCM treatment for COVID-19

Li Qian
Research suggests that traditional Chinese medicines can help patients recover faster and reduce risk of reinfection. Such medicines may also help stave off severe symptoms.
Li Qian
Experts discuss asymptomatic carriers, TCM treatment for COVID-19
Li Qian / SHINE

Experts gather at Shanghai Science Hall to attend a seminar on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the post-pandemic period, asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 have become a major public concern. They are infectious and pose a risk of spreading the virus to others, the latest research indicates.

Some infected people have no symptoms at all, even 80 days after testing positive for COVID-19. Over multiple weeks, many such patients received several nucleic acid tests, and every time they were tested positive, according to Zhang Boli, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

“This caused me to wonder whether the virus is alive or dead in their bodies,” Zhang said.

His research team sequenced the genome of asymptomatic cases, and found that infected people without symptoms after 30 days are carrying a "dead" form of the virus, Zhang said during a seminar held at the Shanghai Science Hall.

“After the COVID-19 virus dies, it split into genetic fragments, which are not contagious, and exits the body,” Zhang said. But he pointed out that this doesn’t mean that asymptomatic carriers can’t spread the virus. Further research on this subject is still underway.

Zhang noted that traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) can help COVID-19 patients recover faster and reduce the risk of reinfection. Such medicines have also helped many people with mild symptoms from developing into severe cases.

“Generally, about 90 percent of patients in temporary hospitals in Wuhan received TCM treatment, and about 2 to 5 percent of them developed into severe cases. But in the Jiangxia temporary hospital, every one was treated with TCM, and none of them became severe cases,” he said.

Huang Qilu, another academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that research on 55 severe cases in the Jinyintan Hospital showed that TCM helped patients achieve negative coronavirus test results faster than those who did not receive such treatment.

Zhang Wenhong, director of Huashan Hospital’s infectious disease department, said he’s happy to see that TCM and Western medicine have been well integrated in treating COVID-19 patients.

He also praised TCM practitioners for borrowing concepts and experiences from Western medicine.

“Some scientists have started to isolate and purify effective compounds from TCM therapies. If they can succeed, I believe their achievements can compare with Nobel Prize winner Tu Youyou’s discovery of artemisinin,” he said.

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