New evidence emerging from China says 80% of coronavirus cases are asymptomatic but they are carriers of the virus.
Chinese authorities began publishing daily figures on 1 April on the number of new coronavirus cases that are asymptomatic, with the first day’s figures suggesting that around four in five coronavirus infections caused no illness https://t.co/cqnblEJqcj
— The BMJ (@bmj_latest) April 2, 2020
Authorities in China started publishing figures of patients with no symptoms from the start of April and the first-day results showed four out of five cases were without symptoms which is alarming. It is now believed that asymptomatic people are the main source of virus spread.
China’s National Health Commission reported on 1st April that 166 people reported with virus infection, of which 133 were asymptomatic and 38 symptomatic. China is rigorously investigating overseas people on arrival as it is afraid of a new outbreak of it.
Tom Jefferson, an epidemiologist and honorary research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, while talking to BMJ, said:
The findings were very, very important. The sample is small, and more data will become available. Also, it’s not clear exactly how these cases were identified. But let’s just say they are generalizable. And even if they are 10% out, then this suggests the virus is everywhere. If — and I stress, if — the results are representative, then we have to ask, ‘What the hell are we locking down for?’
As the infection has loosened its grip on China, the people are afraid that asymptomatic carriers of the virus could be the major source of it as travel restrictions are lifted by the Chinese government.
Zhong Nanshan, a senior medical adviser to the Chinese government, says:
Asymptomatic infections would not be able to cause another major outbreak of COVID-19 if such people were kept in isolation. Officials have said this is usually for 14 days. Once asymptomatic infected people are identified, they and their contacts would be isolated and kept under observation.
South China Morning Post has revealed that through contact tracing China has been able to find 43,000 cases of the virus without symptoms. These findings deny the World Health Organization’s report that appeared in February and stated that the virus rarely appears in people without symptoms and those without symptoms won’t be able to spread the virus.
Sergio Romagnani, a professor of clinical immunology at the University of Florence, says:
We don’t know how many people have the virus but we conducted research in a completely isolated village of roughly 3,000 people in northern Italy and found that when people with symptoms of the virus were separated from the people who are showing no symptoms, the rate of disease fell to 90%.
Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine and editor of BMJ EBM, say that the virus has spread rapidly and we have no idea about it but as the genie is out of the bottle, further locking of citizens will badly affect us financially.