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New CDC data shows nearly 60% of COVID-19 transmissions come from those with no symptoms

Posted January 7, 2021 11:25 p.m. EST
Updated January 8, 2021 6:04 p.m. EST

New data from the CDC shows more than half of COVID-19 transmissions come from people who don’t even know they have it.

A new model shows that 59% of all transferals come from asymptomatic carriers. That includes 35% of people who were pre-symptomatic and 24% who never developed any symptoms.

“It’s really a signal that someone’s immune system has not yet responded to the virus entering the body, that’s one possibility,” says UNC Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchuk. “It could be that the person who was tested has not yet developed symptoms the other possibility is that the persons immune system response to the virus a little bit differently and may never develop symptoms whatsoever.”

Experts tell us asymptomatic spread is one of the biggest challenges when trying to slow the spread.

Duke infectious disease expert Dr. Cameron Wolfe says this data serves as a reminder that we all need to follow the advice of the medical community.

“That is the reason why masks and distancing is so important,” Wolfe said. “You cannot rely on your own symptoms to base your decisions.”

Wolfe stressed the importance of sticking to what works, washing your hands, wearing a mask and keeping your distance. He also posed a reminder that there aren’t any shortcuts to getting through this.

“You can’t test your way out of this problem,” Wolfe said. “We’re all fatigued. Heck, no one is immune to that, but we’ve got to keep pushing that line and this asymptomatic data really proves that point. We’ve got to do better.”

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