Most COVID Spreaders, You'd Never Expect: CDC

That healthy-looking person? You might want to step back
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2020 10:20 AM CST
COVID Spreaders Are the Least Likely People, CDC Says
Ashley Gannon, left, reads a book as she and others wait in line outside a New York City Health Hospitals COVID testing site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Turns out most COVID-19 infections are spread by people who show no symptoms at all—another reason why it's good to wear masks and take other simple precautions, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "CDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who are not exhibiting symptoms," the agency says, per CNN. "This means at least half of new infections come from people likely unaware they are infectious to others." The CDC explains that 24% of coronavirus transmitters are asymptomatic, 35% presymptomatic, and 41% were experiencing symptoms. That means 59% were transmitted by people without symptoms.

The CDC attributes the finding to two studies, one of which was published in July by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Led by experts in the US and Canada, it was based on "recent individual-level data" showing that "the majority of incidences may be attributable to silent transmission." It added that "consequently, even if all symptomatic cases are isolated, a vast outbreak may nonetheless unfold," and "over one-third of silent infections must be isolated to suppress a future outbreak below 1% of the population." The CDC concludes that people can help curb the virus by wearing masks, washing their hands, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, using ventilation, and avoiding crowded indoor spaces. (More coronavirus stories.)

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