One in five people could be walking around with ‘silent’ Covid-19, a study published in the journal Thorax suggests, leading researchers to suggest these people may act as an important driver of viral spread in the community.
Lead author Professor Sung-Han Kim, from the Department of Infectious Diseases at Asan Medical Center, Seoul, said the findings add further support to the use of face masks by the general public.
He also said the scope of testing for Covid-19 should be expanded to include asymptomatic individuals in high-risk settings, such as nursing homes or healthcare facilities. In the UK, asymptomatic people are not currently tested for Covid-19, however care home residents and staff members are able to get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US recently U-turned on its advice around testing asymptomatic people and now stresses the need to test asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people, including close contacts of a person with confirmed Covid.
What did the new study on silent Covid find?
The new study found those with asymptomatic Covid appear to have similar viral loads to those with symptoms, echoing the results of past studies. Viral load refers to the total amount of virus a person has inside them. In theory: the higher the viral load, the more infectious someone is likely to be.
Researchers looked at a large cluster outbreak of Covid-19 in Daegu City, South Korea, early on in the pandemic. The close contacts of the cluster were traced and more than 3,000 cases of Covid-19 were uncovered, ranging from people having no symptoms at all to severe effects.
Those with mild or no symptoms were admitted to dedicated care facilities for isolation and monitoring. The 213 participants involved in this study had been...