A recent scientific paper shows that we may not really understand exactly how coronavirus affects "asymptomatic" patients.
There has been a lot of medical terminologies and scientific jargon in the news lately, and it's easy to find oneself swamped with information. One common misconception that has been going around since the pandemic started is that the virus does not affect those who are labeled "asymptomatic."
A new study published on June 18 in the journal Nature Medicine looked at the clinical patterns of asymptomatic infections. Conducted by researchers in central China, what the researchers found was that many asymptomatic patients did develop signs of minor respiratory inflammation—similar to walking pneumonia—even though they showed no other visible symptoms of the virus.
For this study, 37 asymptomatic patients from the Wanzhou District in China were hospitalized and observed. None of the patients had underlying health conditions such as lung, liver, kidney, cardiovascular, metabolic, or immunodeficiency disease. Of the patients observed, 57 percent showed some sort of lung abnormality after a CT scan, meaning that the virus can be causing internal damage with no outward symptoms.
The study shows that while asymptomatic patients may not experience the same level of severity or the same range of symptoms as other coronavirus patients, the virus does not simply hang out with them for a bit. Damage can be done, though the individual may not feel any different or seem sick. It did not reveal any evidence that asymptomatic patients can progress to a more advanced and serious stage of the disease.
More research will need to be done. As we learn more about the virus, how it spreads, and what it does to both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, we will learn more about how to effectively treat and stop the spread of the disease. It also shows that we need to spend more time understanding what exactly asymptomatic means when it comes to the coronavirus.
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