Asymptomatic Transmission of Covid-19 Reduces Value of Fever Checks

(p. A4) . . . while health officials have endorsed masks and social distancing as effective measures for curbing the spread of the coronavirus, some experts scoff at fever checks. Taking temperatures at entry points is nothing more than theater, they say, a gesture that is unlikely to screen out many infected individuals, and one that offers little more than the illusion of safety.

. . .

. . . a growing body of evidence suggests that many of those who are driving transmission are so-called silent carriers — people who have been infected but feel fine, and don’t have a fever or any other symptoms.

. . .

“We now have a better understanding of Covid-19 transmission that indicates symptom-based screening has limited effectiveness because people with Covid-19 may have no symptoms or fever at the time of screening, or only mild symptoms,” the C.D.C. said in a statement.

. . .

Evidence of asymptomatic spread dates back to early in the pandemic, but has been mounting ever since. A recent study from South Korea published in JAMA Internal Medicine in August offered even more proof, finding that infected individuals who don’t feel ill may carry just as much virus in their nose, throat and lungs as those with symptoms — and for almost as long.

. . .

A. David Paltiel, a professor of health policy and management at Yale School of Public Health, says these individuals are the “silent spreaders” who are driving transmission and sparking superspreading events.

“You are maximally infectious before you exhibit symptoms, if you exhibit any symptoms at all,” Dr. Paltiel said. “You can be exposed and incubating the virus, and be beginning to shed massive amounts of transmissible virus and be a superspreader, without actually exhibiting any symptoms like a fever.”

For the full story, see:

Roni Caryn Rabin. “Fever Checks Are on the Rise, but Are They Effective Gatekeepers?” The New York Times (Monday, September 14, 2020): A4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated September 14, 2020, and has the title “Fever Checks Are No Safeguard Against Covid-19.”)

The paper in JAMA Internal Medicine discussed above is:

Lee, Seungjae, Tark Kim, Eunjung Lee, Cheolgu Lee, Hojung Kim, Heejeong Rhee, Se Yoon Park, Hyo-Ju Son, Shinae Yu, Jung Wan Park, Eun Ju Choo, Suyeon Park, Mark Loeb, and Tae Hyong Kim. “Clinical Course and Molecular Viral Shedding among Asymptomatic and Symptomatic Patients with Sars-Cov-2 Infection in a Community Treatment Center in the Republic of Korea.” JAMA Internal Medicine (published online in advance of print Aug. 6, 2020). Doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.3862

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