Virologist fears UK pandemic from patients sans symptoms

China | 10 Feb 2020 3:28 pm

Richard Tedder, visiting professor in medical virology at Imperial College London, has raised concerns that medical authorities in the UK are "flying blind" because of the potential for asymptomatic transmission.

“The recognition of the fourth case in the UK is a testament to the excellent way the response to this virus is co-ordinated within the NHS.

“However, as this fourth case was linked to a known case and it is currently uncertain if that known case had any symptoms when he infected those who have now also been found to have been infected, it is also a warning echoing the comments made by Peter Piot today in the Sunday Times that there is a potential risk of a pandemic.

“Unlike the Sars outbreak of 18 years ago, it may be that this new coronavirus could infect very many more people than those who present with symptoms and mapping the penetration of this virus into countries will not be achieved with current diagnostic assays.

“These only detect the currently infected person tested because they have an illness... [We need to] apply diagnostic testing for coronavirus infection using the ability to test for antibody, thereby having a direct measure of where this virus is going.

“Without that we are truly flying blind if it is the case that the coronavirus can be transmitted by those without symptoms.”

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