Up to 25% of coronavirus patients may not show symptoms, CDC director says

The CDC has "pretty much confirmed" that a significant number of people infected with the new coronavirus remain asymptomatic — as many as 25 percent of those infected, the CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, said in a March 30 interview with radio station WABE, an NPR affiliate in Atlanta.

He also said that it appears that those who do begin showing symptoms appear to shed the virus significantly in their throats, potentially up to 48 hours before symptoms show.

"This helps explain how rapidly this virus continues to spread across the country, because we have asymptomatic transmitters, and we have individuals who are transmitting 48 hours before they become symptomatic," he said.

Dr. Redfield also reiterated the importance of social-distancing measures, saying "This is not just a little recommendation on a piece of paper. This is a very powerful weapon."

The CDC director anticipates the virus spread will die down as we move into late spring, early summer, but we will see a second wave in late fall or early winter. In the intervening months, the U.S. needs to continue working on measures, such as early case definition, isolation and contact- tracing, to prepare.

"This virus is going to be with us," he said. "I'm hopeful that we'll get through this first wave and have some time to prepare for the second wave. I'm hopeful that the private sector in its ingenuity and working with the government, NIH, will develop a vaccine that ultimately will change the impact of this virus."

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