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Another study shows many asymptomatic positive tests for SARS-COV-2, this time in women at delivery: 90% of patients had no symptomsNEJM

2020-04-13

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This letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reinforces the previous reports that I have found in stating that the majority of people who are positive for SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic.

Here’s the nut of the story:

From March 22 to April 4, some 215 women delivered babies at a New York City health system. Of these, four had symptoms at admission and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Of the remaining 211 asymptomatic women, 210 had nasopharyngeal swabs taken, and 14% (29 women) were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, nearly 90% of women who were positive at admission were asymptomatic.

These reports are very reassuring.  Most people who are infected have no symptoms.  It is only people at high risk who develop symptoms and get really sick.  A few will die.  It is these patients who are of concern, and it is for them that we have to isolate.  Despite being reassured about personal risk, I am convinced that it is necessary to keep people isolated until we find effective treatments and even then, to maintain precautions until everyone can be either vaccinated or proven to be immune by blood antibody testing.

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