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Up to 45% of COVID-19 infections may be asymptomatic

Asymptomatic infections may have played a significant role in the early and ongoing spread of COVID-19 and highlight the need for expansive testing and contact tracing to mitigate the pandemic.

According to results by the Scripps Research analysis of public datasets on asymptomatic infections, an extraordinary percentage of people infected by the virus do not show any symptoms.

Asymptomatic infections may in fact account for almost half of all COVID-19 cases.

Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said: "The silent spread of the virus makes it all the more challenging to control".

Image credit: Cristina Spano/NPR

The UK government has been criticised for its failure to increase testing for COVID-19 fast enough to control the spread of the virus.

The government has prioritised tests for seriously ill patients in hospital and frontline NHS staff, but testing needs to be done at sufficient scales to look at outbreaks and isolate where they are occurring, such has been the case in Germany and South Korea.

While individuals may be suffering from COVID-19 but asymptomatically, this does not necessarily imply an absence of harm. CT scans conducted on individuals who are asymptomatic appear to show significant lung abnormalities raising the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 infection impacting lung function that might not be immediately apparent.

With research and clinical science estimating that around 45 per cent of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, your chances of becoming critically ill or showing symptoms have the same probability equivalent to the flip of a coin.

Furthermore, large scales studies are needed to understand better whether asymptomatic individuals have the same magnitude of infectiousness as opposed to those who do show symptoms (despite viral loads being similar among those who do and do not show symptoms).


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