The Difference between Asymptomatic and Presymptomatic Spread of the Coronavirus

The novel Coronavirus represents a real challenge for all those who work in the search for the vaccine that will achieve its eradication. COVID-19 is a new coronavirus very different from those that preceded it, which makes its spread difficult to find.

Part of those strange things that happen with this novel Coronavirus is the ease with which people can be infected by someone who does not have any symptoms. But there is a difference between asymptomatic spread and presymptomatic spread.

The asymptomatic spread is the transmission of the virus by people who have no symptoms and will never have symptoms of their infection. But these infected carriers could still make others sick. The presymptomatic spread is the transmission of the virus by people who do not look or feel sick but will eventually have symptoms later.

This novel Coronavirus is so strange that it is not possible to know if someone is presymptomatic or asymptomatic. Both types of carriers look and feel normal, although presymptomatic carriers will have symptoms later on. Studies suggest that presymptomatic spread is more common than asymptomatic spread

Spread of the virus without showing symptoms

According to Annie Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health “when you speak, sometimes you spit a little bit, you will rub your nose, you will touch your mouth, you will rub your eyes and then you will touch other surfaces, there you will be spreading the virus if you are infected”, mentions Rimoin.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 40% of Coronavirus transmission occurs before people feel sick. In one study, about 4 out of 5 people with confirmed Coronavirus in China were likely infected by asymptomatic people and therefore did not know they had it, according to research published in the journal Science.

“These findings explain the rapid geographic spread of the Coronavirus and indicate that containing this virus will be particularly difficult,” the researchers wrote.

Many people with Coronavirus have no idea they have it, either because they are asymptomatic, presymptomatic, or paucisymptomatic (having extremely mild symptoms).

The CDC said that nearly half of the 712 people with Coronavirus who were on the Diamond Princess Cruise ship had no symptoms when they tested positive. And a study in Iceland showed that 50% of those who tested positive had no symptoms at the time of the test.

At what point are presymptomatic carriers most contagious?

“People tend to be most contagious before they develop symptoms if they are ever going to develop symptoms,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent.

“They call that the presymptomatic period, therefore people tend to have more viruses at that point appears in the nose, in the mouth. This is even before you get sick. And they may be transmitting that virus to the environment”.

In this situation, how can I stay free from contagion?

The only way to avoid contagion is by complying with the established prevention measures; wear face masks and maintain a physical distance from others. This can help reduce the risk that someone infected but not yet contagious may infect another without knowing it,” said the Harvard team.

The reality of this Coronavirus is that we must take into account and comply with the recommendations that the authorities issue to avoid contagion. The presence of asymptomatic and presymptomatic people on the street is impossible to identify. In the same way, we must be responsible for ourselves and with others and go to the doctor in any situation that questions our good health.

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