According to Dr. Eric Topol, founder of the institute and one of the paper’s authors, “The range we found is extraordinarily high, that means the range of what can happen with SARS-CoV-2 is from no symptoms to [death]. That’s not at all similar to any virus or pathogen we’ve experienced that has killing potential in the past. What we have here is an extraordinary spectrum, including this quiet, stealth mode of infecting somebody.”
The authors of the study, Dr. Topol and Daniel Oran, based their conclusions on diverse cohort studies that took into account symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. One of the results they studied was on the residents of a town called Vo, in Italy.
Of the 2,300 people sampled in Vo, researchers found that 41% were asymptomatic. This means that asymptomatic carriers might have contributed to the spread of the virus in the area.
Other Studies Support the Findings
Their results are supported by other studies that show asymptomatic patients having the same amount of viral load as symptomatic patients. People with a high viral load are more likely to be infectious compared to those with a lower viral load.
Dr. Topol adds that there is also the possibility of the virus causing damage without any outward symptoms. According to data, 76 out of the 331 people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship showed signs of lung damage, but no outward symptoms.
Dr. Topol continues, “Basically, the reason why we have to all wear masks—because nobody knows who is an asymptomatic carrier. The person doesn’t know it, and the person’s contacts don’t know it. That has enormous implications, and it’s an area we need to study more, on how to test people without symptoms on a very large scale, to understand these people better and follow them to determine precisely their ability to transmit.”