Researchers say 50 Percent of Coronavirus Carriers Never Show Symptoms

In what might explain the rapid spread of the coronavirus, doctors in Iceland say 50 percent of the country’s residents who have tested positive haven’t experienced any symptoms.

With a population of just 360,000 people and no shortage of testing kits, Icelandic doctors have had the luxury of administering tests to everyone who asks for them — a sharp contrast to the U.S., where tests are reserved for only patients displaying severe symptoms. Although less than 1 percent of Iceland’s residents tested positive for the coronavirus, a full half of them had never experienced symptoms and felt like they were in good health, says Dr. Kari Stefansson.

While acknowledging the importance of this finding, Stefansson stops short of confirming that the coronavirus could be carried and passed on by perfectly healthy people. “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 says.