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Half of People With COVID-19 Do Not Have Symptoms, Iceland Testing Shows

Finding suggests that people with no or mild symptoms play a significant role in spreading the disease

WEDNESDAY, April 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Up to half of people who test positive for the new coronavirus do not have symptoms, results from Iceland show.

As of March 31, more than 17,900 people in Iceland had been tested for the virus, nearly 5 percent of its population, CNN reported. The National University Hospital tests people who are high-risk or have symptoms, but nearly half the tests have been conducted in the wider population by the biopharmaceutical company deCODE Genetics.

Fewer than 1 percent of the tests conducted by the company were positive for coronavirus, but about 50 percent of people who tested positive had no symptoms, company founder Kári Stefánsson, M.D., told CNN. That supports previous research suggesting that people with no or mild symptoms play a significant role in spreading the coronavirus.

"What it means in my mind, is that because we are screening the general population, we are catching people early in the infection before they start showing symptoms," Stefánsson told CNN.

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