PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — More than half of the cases of COVID-19 come from people with no symptoms.
Based on CDC models, 59% percent of infections are spread by people who don’t even realize they have it.
“Any mathematical model will have some assumptions, like what’s the median incubation period? What is the typical time that they will remain infective to others?” Allegheny Health Network Infectious Diseases specialist Dr. Nitin Bhanot said. “It’s more of a reason to say we should mask, we should follow precautions because it’s a pretty high number.”
Thirty-five percent of viral spreaders go on to develop symptoms and 24% remain asymptomatic.
“It’s hard to conceive and believe in something when you have no symptoms,” Dr.Bhanot said. “I have no symptoms, this person has no symptoms, we’re good, is not the approach to take. The assumption should be like everybody has COVID around you and you have COVID too.”
While some people handle the illness with minimal issues, the person they give it to may not be so lucky,
“Maybe you know a 20-year-old giving to his grandpa, who might then succumb to the illness,” says Dr. Bhanot.
Controlling the pandemic will require controlling this silent spread.
“Masking, keeping the distance, avoid social gatherings,” he said. “People should not again get that false sense of security. They could be asymptomatic and sitting next to you and you shouldn’t feel you are safe.”
This may be even more important in certain settings, such as nursing homes and households.
“Especially household contact because you’re sharing stuff, you’re sitting next to each other, you’re spending a lot of time without masks,” Dr. Bhanot said.
And while studies show the vaccine prevents a symptomatic case of COVID-19, we don’t know yet if it prevents asymptomatic cases. Until that is nailed down, even if you get the vaccine, you should still behave as if you could spread it.