The Role of Asymptomatic carriers in the spread of COVID-19
How do you know if you have the coronavirus? It can be hard to tell when there is evidence that COVID-19 has the ability to spread silently. It can become a growing concern as we come out of lockdown and businesses open up. There has been a lot of research on asymptomatic carriers in the last few months. We will be sharing some information on what's going on and the science behind this barrier. It's something we have to be aware of if we return to school in the fall and as restrictions are lifted.
Asymptomatic : People who carry the active virus in their body but never develop symptoms.
In a large UK teaching hospital, 1032 asymptomatic health care workers were screened for COVID-19 (elife, 2020). Amongst these, 3% were positive for SARS-CoV-2. It shows that even in a hospital, determining the trace of infection is difficult. You could contract the virus through your own household, walking to work, or at the grocery store. This shows that it's important to test all family members and people in close contact to an identified case because some may be asymptomatic.
The only way to increase testing efficiency and determine the impact of asymptomatic spreading is to test more. Gaining more data will give scientists more information to work with.
There's also presymptomatic, and it's way more common, About 75% of people who test positive without symptoms are presymptomatic (Huang, 2020).
Presymptomatic : People who have been infected and are incubating the virus but don't yet show symptoms.
However all of this information doesn't discredit social distancing and isolation. The best way to stay safe and protect yourself- and others is to keep your distance and make sure you know the appropriate protocols.
Wearing a mask, keeping 6 feet apart and quarantining after travelling are all good ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Contributors : Edie Whittington, Mina Chong