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Global Study: 4 In 10 With Covid Are Spreading It Unknowingly

Global Study: 4 In 10 With Covid Are Spreading It Unknowingly

spreading covid

A patient is taken on a stretcher into the United Memorial Medical Center after going through testing for covid-19 in Houston, March 19, 2020. People lined up in their cars for more than two miles to be tested. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Four out of 10 people who are infected with covid-19 are spreading the disease unknowingly, according to a global study.

Findings of a study by researchers from Peking University showed that more than 40 percent of the tested population confirmed to be infected with coronavirus were asymptomatic, exhibiting no symptoms of the disease.

The study, published in JAMA Network, concluded that the high percentage of asymptomatic infection highlights the potential transmission risk of asymptomatic infections in communities.

Researchers called for screening for asymptomatic infection, especially in countries and regions that have successfully controlled SARS-CoV-2.

“Asymptomatic infections should be under management similar to that for confirmed infections, including isolating and contact training,” they said.

The researchers analyzed 95 studies covering about 30 million people worldwide and found that 0.25 percent of them were asymptomatic.

The rate of asymptomatic individuals was higher in nursing homes at 4.52 percent, at 2.02 percent among cruise travelers, 2.34 percent among pregnant women and 0.75 percent among healthcare workers or in-hospital patients.

Among confirmed cases of the virus, however, the figure shot up to more than 40 percent. Some 54 percent of pregnant women with confirmed cases were asymptomatic, compared to 53 percent of air or cruise passengers and 48 percent of nursing home residents or staffers, according to the study.


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Covid-19 infections have surged across the U.S. and world since the new omicron strain was discovered by South African scinetists in late November. Governments are faced with the daunting option of closing economies by reinstating prevention restrictions such as travel bans, wearing masks and social distancing.

Initially, the World Health Organization (WHO) erroneously said that the risk of transmission by asymptomatic people was very low, but reversed this position after a backlash from public health officials.

People who are asymptomatic pose a greater threat to others as they may not get tested, may not isolate and may not take other precautionary measures when out with others.

Other studies have shown that people can be contagious in the first several days of having the virus before they show symptoms. One study estimated that more than 40 percent of coronavirus cases were transmitted in the presymptomatic phase.

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