Lab Testing Suggests Up To 50% Of Coronavirus Cases Have No Symptoms

Officials in Iceland have resisted widespread lockdowns and stay at home orders to combat the global coronavirus pandemic. Instead, they have been focusing their efforts on a comprehensive testing program.

While the government focused on testing sick and at-risk patients, biopharma company deCODE Genetics began testing members of the general public. The company has conducted roughly 9,000 out of the 17,900 tests performed in the country.

They found that while fewer than 1% of the tests came back positive, roughly 50% of the people who had COVID-19 were not showing any symptoms.

Health officials said the results show the importance of catching the virus early, especially because it can be spread by people who do not have any symptoms of the virus.

"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," deCODE Genetics founder Dr. Kári Stefánsson told CNN.

Stefánsson explained that testing is important to help track to the virus, and that early intervention can keep it from spreading.

"It is extraordinarily important to know what the distribution in the society in general is because when you're designing measures to contain the virus," he said.

Stefánsson hopes that his can company can conduct at least 50,000 tests.

To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Photo: Getty Images