National Post (National Edition)
Shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, cough, fever and tiredness — all regular and common symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
Unless, you've been deemed asymptomatic.
Not showing any symptoms doesn't mean you can't spread the virus, but experts are struggling to estimate their contribution to overall numbers.
According to the Nature Journal, about one in five people with COVID-19 do not experience symptoms. This is around 20 per cent of all cases. “But researchers are divided about whether asymptomatic infections are acting as a `silent driver' of the pandemic,” it stated.
The biggest reason scientists are trying to determine how important a role asymptomatics are playing in COVID-19's spread is because most go undetected — leaving an unknown percentage of cases completely in the dark.
The Ontario Ministry of Health recommends that only high-risk asymptomatic individuals or asymptomatic individuals from targeted groups be considered for testing. This includes coming in contact with a confirmed case, being a worker or resident in an outbreak site, identifying as part of a targeted testing campaign laid out by the health authorities or being a part of a workplace participating in a rapid antigen screening pilot – a program for asymptomatic individuals only.
“These new rapid tests are game changers in the fight against COVID-19,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford in late November. “This new technology can provide test results in hours, even minutes, instead of days.”
As for the vaccine and asymptomatic transporters, there is no evidence that people who have been previously exposed to the virus — whether they know it or not — shouldn't be vaccinated.
Matthew Miller, an associate professor of infectious diseases and immunology at McMaster University in Hamilton, said that everyone should follow health authorities' guidelines and get the vaccine.
“Asymptomatic people are probably especially important because from the studies that have been done so far…
people who have been asymptomatically infected, their antibody levels are lower and they may not be high enough to confer protection,” he said.
The vaccine will boost the immunity of those people in order to get them across that threshold of protective immune response.