1/3 of people infected with nCoV may be ‘silent pathogens’

Avatar of Nick John By Nick John Dec22,2023 #infected #pathogens
1/3 of people infected with nCoV may be 'silent pathogens' 6
1/3 of people infected with nCoV may be 'silent pathogens' 6

According to a confidential Chinese government report accessed by SCMP reporters, more than 43,000 people in the country were positive for nCoV as of the end of February but had no immediate symptoms, a condition often called asymptomatic disease.

Scientists still cannot agree on the role of asymptomatic infections in the spread of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, countries have different ways of calculating the number of people infected with nCoV.

However, the Chinese government changed its guidance on calculating the number of infections on February 7, counting only symptomatic patients.

The fact that China and South Korea test anyone in close contact with a patient, regardless of whether the person has symptoms or not, may be the reason these two Asian countries appear to have stopped the virus from spreading

Meanwhile, in most European countries and the US, where only people showing symptoms are tested, the number of infections continues to skyrocket.

Doctor treating a patient infected with nCoV at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in February. Photo: Xinhua.

A growing number of studies have questioned WHO’s previous claim that asymptomatic infection is `extremely rare`.

Hiroshi Nishiura, an epidemiologist at Hokkaido University, in a letter to the International Journal of Infectious Diseases in February said the proportion of asymptomatic Japanese patients evacuated from Wuhan was about 38%, equivalent to

South Korea, which has tested nearly 300,000 close contacts of infected cases as of March 18, said more than 20% of asymptomatic infections were reported to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

`South Korea currently has a higher rate of asymptomatic infections than other countries, possibly due to our widespread testing,` Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the KCDC, said at a press conference on March 16.

According to data obtained from Diamond Princess, a cruise ship quarantined for weeks in Yokohama port, Japan, of the 712 passengers and crew members positive for nCoV, 334 were asymptomatic.

A report by the European Union (EU) estimates that the rate of asymptomatic nCoV infections in Italy is 44%.

Asymptomatic carriers do not appear to be a major factor in the spread of Covid-19, the WHO said.

A joint study by experts from mainland China, the US, the UK, and Hong Kong found that pneumonia cases, mostly with mild or asymptomatic symptoms, were the source of infection for 79% of reported nCoV infections.

`Unrecorded cases often experience mild, limited or no symptoms and therefore go undetected. Depending on the level of infection and number, asymptomatic cases can infect many people.`

1/3 of people infected with nCoV may be 'silent pathogens'

Hiroshi Nishiura, epidemiologist at Hokkaido University.

Ho Pak-leung, a professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, said that some asymptomatic patients carry the same amount of virus as those with symptoms.

`Of course it’s hard to say they might be less infectious if they don’t cough, but there are also droplets when you talk,` he said, referring to how the virus is transmitted through the respiratory tract.

Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong, said there is clear evidence that infected people can transmit the disease before symptoms appear.

A better understanding of asymptomatic infections could lead to adjustments in public health policy, experts say.

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