The World Health Organization recently made a statement about asymptomatic coronavirus infections which confused the scientific community and general public. However, the experts at WHO clarified the statement within 24 hours.
On Monday, Maria Van Kerkhove said during a press conference that the asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is very rare. She later said that the statement was misunderstood and this is not what she meant. She clarified that her statement was based on the small number of studies and not the actual cases.
According to the figures of WHO, 16 percent of the coronavirus patients do not show any symptoms of infection. Another study suggests that 40% of Covid-19 infections occur due to asymptomatic spread of coronavirus. The contradiction created confusion among people who isolated themselves months ago in fear of contracting the coronavirus.
A study published by researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine regarded the asymptomatic coronavirus infection as Achilles’ heel of the coronavirus pandemic. The experts at the University of California, San Francisco published the study on May 28.
The authors of the research paper are Monica Gandhi, Diane Havlir, and Deborah Yokoe. The experts wrote that the screening of coronavirus based solely on symptoms is inadequate.
They also mentioned that SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 cause similar infections in terms of isolation after diagnosis. Both of these infections, SARS and Covid-19 spread through droplets with other symptoms. These symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, frequent coughing, and fatigue.
Both of these infections develop their symptoms within five days of infection. Also, both of these viruses are closely related in terms of their genetic makeup. This makes their symptoms almost the same.
But the impact of both of these infections varies dramatically. The authors wrote that the SARS infection lasted for 8 months and infected 8,100 individuals. The virus also did not cause a worldwide pandemic.
The novel coronavirus, on the other hand, caused a global pandemic and infected 7.4 million individuals within six months. The asymptomatic coronavirus infection is complicating the control of pandemic.
The health experts advised the public to maintain social distancing at all times. This means that people should keep a distance of at least six feet from each other. Also, people should wear face masks as much as possible to prevent the spread of coronavirus through tiny droplets. Since coronavirus is a respiratory infection, its main source of spread is through coughing and sneezing of an infected individual.
Gregory Poland is an expert at the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He also studies immunogenetics of vaccine response at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He said that six feet apart is not a hard and fast rule to prevent coronavirus infection.
He explained that the virus can stay suspended in the air for around half an hour. Also, it travels a distance of 27 feet when an infected person is talking. The virus is similar to the influenza virus in some ways. Infected people can transmit this virus to others before they develop any symptoms of infection. And some people will not develop any symptoms at all.
The asymptomatic coronavirus infection is prevalent in a huge number of individuals. The risk of the spread of the virus through these individuals remains there. Although the experts advise people to follow preventive guidelines, these measures are not adequate to counter the novel coronavirus.