Wednesday, April 22, 2020

"What Have You Got To Lose?"

Sure, we could do that.  I'd be happy if we did.  But without testing and tracing, is it worth it?

Just two months ago, the discovery that two people infected with the coronavirus had no symptoms was such big scientific news that it was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Now, it is becoming clear that much, if not most, of the spread of the virus is by infected people who don’t get sick. New evidence comes from a Boston homeless shelter, an Italian town, a California county, and a Navy aircraft carrier.

“With regard to COVID-19, we’re learning that stealth in the form of asymptomatic transmission is this adversary’s secret power,” Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy, said at a briefing earlier this month.

That secret power has huge implications for curbing the pandemic, and further dampens the prospects for safely reopening the United States before therapies or a vaccine are available.

Last month, German researchers shared a study of nine hospitalized patients who they found had released, or “shed,” coronavirus in their spit and stool very early in their infections, and for up to a few weeks after symptoms ended. That suggested people might be infectious before and after they were sick, which would make stopping the spread even tougher.

Meanwhile, health officials were reassuring the public that asymptomatic transmission was unusual, and the virus mostly spread in droplets sneezed or coughed by a sick person.

More and more data contradict that reassurance.

Can we open up now?

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