CORONAVIRUS can be much less deadly than first thought, as large-scale testing in Iceland suggested that about half of those infected had developed the disease without even realizing it.
Iceland has tested a tenth of its population at random, and the study data suggests that most people have only mild, if any, symptoms of the disease.
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There have only been seven deaths in the European nation and 1,689 cases of infection recorded since the start of the epidemic.
A rigorous nationwide testing campaign has removed 10% of Iceland’s 364,134 people.
Almost half of the Icelandic tests were carried out by the biopharmaceutical company deCODE Genetics.
The company focused its tests on the general population and not necessarily on those at high risk or with symptoms.
The crucial difference means that the deCODE screening program “accepts all those who are symptom-free and who are not currently in quarantine,” the Icelandic Department of Health said in a statement.
The ministry added, “Testing in the general population will continue to provide a much clearer picture of the actual spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Iceland. “
The table that appears seems to indicate that if a larger cohort of the population is tested, more precise data can be obtained as to the actual severity of the virus.
Data suggests that the country’s death rate is only 0.0041%, which is significantly lower than that of other countries, including the United Kingdom which officially records a death rate of around 0 , 12%.
ICELAND VS. UK
The data suggests that Britain’s higher death rate is not the result of a more “deadly” virus, but the byproduct of less effective tests.
The UK has administered a total of 334,974 tests for 269,598 people out of 66.4 million people, according to official figures published on gov.uk.
This translates to only 0.41% of the buffered population and a mortality rate of around 0.12%, notably higher than that of Iceland.
Testing in the general population will continue to provide a much clearer picture of the actual spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Iceland.
Icelandic Directorate of Health
50% NOT SYMPTOMATIC
By selecting only those in need of hospital care or with more severe symptoms, the data inevitably show a more pessimistic result.
DeCODE company founder Dr Kári Stefánsson said that around 50% of people tested positive in Iceland were asymptomatic and played an important role in the spread of the virus.
Speaking to CNN, he explained, “What that means to my mind is that because we screen in the general population, we catch people at the start of the infection before they start to show symptoms.
“The only reason we are doing better is that we have been even more vigilant.
“We have taken the news of an epidemic that has started in China seriously. We did not shrug and said, “This is not going to be anything remarkable. “”
The only reason we do better is that we were even more vigilant. We have taken the news of an epidemic beginning in China seriously.
Dr Kári Stefánsson, founder of the company deCODE
This vigilance has, in part, enabled the county to resist a large-scale foreclosure like those seen across the continent.
Iceland was not forced to close businesses and stores, contrary to the strict isolation measures observed in neighboring countries.
Although many have observed that the small Icelandic population has helped them to carry out large-scale testing, Stefánsson disagrees. He noted, “It has nothing to do with the size of the population, it has to do with how well it was prepared. [for the pandemic]. “
Iceland has become the country with the highest proportion of coronavirus cases in the world simply because of their extensive screening.
Infection rates in Iceland mirror those of Hong Kong and Singapore, which have kept cases low despite their geographic proximity to mainland China and the high number of tourist arrivals.
Gestur Palmason, a police detective working as a “contact tracer” for coronaviruses at the Icelandic National Crisis Coordination, offered a different perspective.
He told USAToday, “The smaller the population, the more likely you are to know someone who is affected.
“Whatever your government or law enforcement officials say, you are much more likely to want to play a role and take the recommendations seriously because of this personal connection – compared to places where there are dozens of millions of people and where you may not have been parts of the country or know people there. “
Icelandic scientists have directed research against the coronavirus and said late last month that they had found 40 mutations in respiratory disease.
Using genetic sequencing, the researchers identified the number of mutations accumulated by the virus and were able to trace the coronavirus in three European countries – Austria, Italy – the epicenter of the epidemic in Europe – and England.
The team also claims that seven infected people all went to the same undisclosed football match in England.
However, experts continue to disagree on the limits of the country’s research.
According to a report by three infectious disease specialists at the University of Oxford, Carl Heneghan, Jon Brassey and Tom Jefferson, “there is not a single reliable study to determine the number of asymptotics.”
The report says, “It is likely that we will not learn the actual extent until population-based antibody testing has been undertaken. “
Stefánsson expects his company to test at least 50,000 people, about 13% of the population, before the virus spreads.
Iceland’s chief epidemiologists said on Thursday that country data suggests that the Covid-19 epidemic in Iceland is showing clear signs of deceleration.
AT BRIT’S END
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THE PM’S FIGHT
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The news comes as Britain spoiled the data on coronavirus infections and missed up to two million people who may already have them, according to new research in Germany.
The results suggest that the 1.5 million people currently infected with the deadly disease worldwide are probably only about six percent of the actual total, a figure that the study says is more likely to be in the “Tens of millions”.
The researchers said the current differences in testing standards have motivated them to approach the problem of finding infected real numbers from a different perspective.
By the end of March, they had calculated that the UK would probably have infected more than two million people, more than three percent of the population.
However, Britain has officially registered only 79,885 cases to date on April 12.
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