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Majority of people who test positive for COVID-19 have no symptoms, according to ONS study

pharmafile | July 9, 2020 | News story | Business Services COVID-19, coronavirus, testing 

Most people who test positive for COVID-19 do not have symptoms of the virus when tested, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS survey only has a small number of positive tests, with 120 infections, which makes it hard to draw sweeping conclusions, but the data did point to certain trends. Those in health facing or social care roles were most likely to have a positive test, people from ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to have a positive antibody test that suggests a past infection and white people were the least likely proportionally to test positive for antibodies. There is also data that indicates people living in larger households were the most likely to test positive.

22% in this study reported symptoms on the day, while 33% of people testing positive for the virus reported symptoms on the day of the test or at a previous or subsequent test. The 78% of people not reporting symptoms on the day included both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people.

This data was collected by testing random people at selected homes in England, while people living in care homes and other institutions were not included. An asymptomatic spread of the virus was warned by the WHO and advisers to the British government and this new study may reveal how much of the virus was spread by asymptomatic people.

Conor Kavanagh

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