Science

Asymptomatic people drive over 50% of Covid-19 infection: CDC study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 13, 2021

Health workers collect nose swabs for a rapid COVID-19 antigen test, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in La Paz, Bolivia January 7, 2021   -  REUTERS

It’s one more example of how this virus is really, really insidious, says expert

Covid-19 positive people who are asymptomatic drive more than half the infection, according to a new study presented by the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC study, also published in the journal JAMA Network, looked at coronavirus infections data and developed a model that showed 59 per cent of Covid-19 transmissions came from asymptomatic people.

“It’s one more example of how this virus is really, really insidious,” said Thomas Unnasch, a public health professor and infectious disease researcher with USF Health.

Unnasch said the CDC’s study underscores how hard it is to track and control the virus when you don’t know who’s infected.

“It’s really hard to identify people who are asymptomatic, don’t have any symptoms at all when they’re walking around in the community and spewing large amounts of virus and infecting people,” said Unnasch.

Also read: Covid-19: Five rare symptoms people might miss

CDC researchers found through their study that 35 per cent of the outbreaks came from people who had the virus but no symptoms yet, and 24 per cent of the spread came from people who never developed symptoms. The study did not consider the environment for the spread or the vaccine.

“This is a really big problem because if you don’t know you’re sick and you don’t know you’re infectious, you’re much less likely to be taking serious precautions,” said Unnasch.

“That’s a nightmare, that’s a Dantean hell. And the only way that we can stay out of that right now is for all of us to pull together and do what we can to block transmission of this virus,” said Unnasch.

Also read: Sniffer dogs can detect Covid-19 present in human sweat: Study

Unnasch believes that every person should consider themselves a potential carrier of the virus even though they feel perfectly fine.

Published on January 13, 2021

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