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Over 80% of people with coronavirus didn’t have key symptoms, UK study finds

PHOTO CREDITS: MERCURY NEWS

Over 80% of people with coronavirus didn’t have key symptoms, UK study finds.

More than two-thirds of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic on the day they took the test, according to a U.K study, reported in Clinical Epidemiology journal. A team of researchers at University College London (UCL), conducted the study by reviewing the data collected by the U.K statistics body, Office for National Statistics (ONS). Scientists believe that containing the virus will pose a problem for further outbreaks if more widespread testing is not encouraged in the community. 

The results of the study have revealed that the future COVID-19 outbreaks will be more challenging to manage if there’s a lack of widespread testing in the public to track the “silent spreaders”.

According to CNBC, the ONS has been regularly collecting coronavirus testing data from thousands of British households, as a part of its infection survey during the pandemic. The survey conducted by the ONS was taken from households, whether they showed symptoms or not. The study evaluated the infection survey from April 26th to June 27th, 2020, which assessed the data from 36,061 people who took the test during the survey. It reported that 86.1% of people who were tested positive for the virus, didn’t show any of the key symptoms like cough, fever, loss of taste and smell, on the day of testing. Out of 115 people who got a positive test result, only 16 reported the main symptoms associated with the virus. Irene Petersen, researcher and author of the study, believes that there is a risk of “silent transmission” by people who are unaware that they are contracted by the virus.

Experts presume that silent transmission possesses a high risk to the public, especially in universities and workplaces like meat processing facilities. As this dilemma can only be dealt with effectively on a wider scale, Petersen stated that pooled testing was needed, where swabs are grouped together and tested as one batch. According to Guardian, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) warned of a “critical risk” of large numbers of infected students sparking outbreaks in the country while they returned to their homes at the end of the term. On the same note, Petersen has urged universities to ramp up tests among students who may have contracted the virus but not showing the symptoms. “At the moment, the focus is on people who have symptoms but if you’re not catching all those who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic it may be really difficult to get outbreaks down in time before they get out of control”, she said. 

ARTICLE: LIDIYA SHILU 

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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