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Study finds asymptomatic Covid-19 patients spread virus similar to symptomatic ones

A South Korean study, published in medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, has found that asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 spread the virus similar to the symptomatic patients. The study suggests that asymptomatic people who are infected with the coronavirus carry similar levels of the pathogen in their nose, throat and lungs as those with symptoms.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers from Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine in South Korea. The experts analysed swabs taken from over 300 patients between March 6 and 26. Of the total, 193 patients were symptomatic while 110 were asymptomatic.

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According to the experts, it was found that many individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection remained asymptomatic for a prolonged period. The study, therefore, calls for all infected persons to be isolated regardless of symptoms to contain the spread of the contagion.

The study is also among the first few to distinguish between pre-symptomatic Covid-19 patients with the asymptomatic ones. Previously, it was found that an estimated 30 percent of Covid-19 patients never develop symptoms. Asymptomatic patients, however, were reported to test negative for the virus sooner when compared to patients with symptoms.  

The authors said their findings “offer biological plausibility” to reports of asymptomatic transmission, adding that the analysis only looked at the amount of viral genetic material present. The team did not attempt to follow the subjects to see if that translated to the spread of the infectious virus.

(With inputs from AFP)

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