- The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people worldwide in just a few months. Scientists are racing to discover how it spreads so quickly.
- According to the director of the CDC, one in four people may be asymptomatic carriers — people who are contagious but not physically sick.
- These carriers are thought to play a significant role in the virus’ spread and are the reason US residents are expected to be asked to start covering their face in public.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
At least one-third of the world is under some type of lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, as governments urge social distancing to stymie the virus’ spread.
That’s because the COVID-19 virus is insidious.
“There’s significant transmission by people not showing symptoms,” Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, told Business Insider.
According to Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 25% of people infected with the new coronavirus may never show symptoms or fall ill — but can still transmit the illness to others.
Redfield on Tuesday told NPR that “we have pretty much confirmed” that “a significant number of individuals that are infected actually remain asymptomatic.”
These asymptomatic carriers, Redfield added, are most likely contributing to the rapid spread of the coronavirus worldwide — the number of confirmed cases passed 1 million this week — and making it challenging for experts to assess the true extent of the pandemic.
“We don’t know all the unidentified cases out there,” Morse said. “It’s mostly sicker people in hospitals who are being tabulated.”
The prevalence of asymptomatic transmission doesn’t bode well for global containment efforts, as Bill Gates recently wrote in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“That means COVID-19 will be much harder to contain than the Middle East respiratory syndrome or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which were spread much less efficiently and only by symptomatic people,” Gates said.
Source: Business Insider
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