Asymptomatic Versus Presymptomatic

The World Health Organization recently has caused a lot of consternation by claiming that “asymptomatic” people rarely spread the coronavirus. Carl Bergstrom explains: “Much of the problem is that ‘asymptomatic patients’ sounds like it refers to anyone without symptoms. It doesn’t. It’s epidemiology jargon for a patient who never will develop symptoms, in contrast with ‘pre-symptomatic patients’ who don’t have symptoms yet but will shortly.” Obviously this can only be determined after the fact. The relevant questions are, of those with an infection, how many will spread it to others, when will they spread it, how many will develop serious noticeable symptoms, and how many will develop serious symptoms.

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