Top health official says carriers with no symptoms less likely to spread virus

Health Ministry deputy director Itamar Grotto tells Army Radio that asymptomatic coronavirus carriers are not as dangerous than those who are already sick, but backs away slightly from his claim a day earlier that they cannot infect others.

“Asymptomatic carriers are half as infectious,” he says after being pressed on the issue.

“I can’t say that for sure on the basis of studies, but i can say it on the basis of other information that I have,” he says, adding that he is using other diseases as a model, such as the flu.

On Tuesday, Grotto insisted to Channel 13 news that those without symptoms could not spread the virus.

While there is no solid medical literature pointing definitively one way or the other, health officials around the world have warned that even those who do not have the disease may unwittingly spread it, especially in the days just before symptoms begin to show.

“The bottom line is that there are people out there shedding the virus who don’t know that they’re infected,” Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, an infectious diseases expert at Columbia University, tells the New York Times.