The wrong people may be getting tested for coronavirus, and that could cause a "big threat" moving forward while trying to control the disease, as a large number of people who are infected remain asymptomatic, oncologist and bioethicist Dr. Zeke Emanuel, said Thursday.
"Somewhere between 25% and 50% of the people who get coronavirus are asymptomatic," Emanuel, the White House adviser for health policy under former President Barack Obama, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "They don't know they have it. It was one thing the president was right on. That's a big threat if you're trying to control this disease."
Such people could unwittingly be spreading coronavirus, Emanuel added, so to control the spread of COVID-19, there are two groups of people who should be tested.
"One is first responders, frontline healthcare workers, grocery workers, pharmacy workers, people who are interacting with lots of people out there," said Emanuel. "They need to be tested regularly. The second group is we have to find the asymptomatic people with a fair amount of contacts who could unwittingly be spreading the virus. That, I think, is a very important shift."
The Centers for Disease Control released an order about who to test in March, but have not revised its call to test people only with serious symptoms, he said.
"That's good if what you're trying to do is treat them and get them the right care in the hospital," he said." "We do have to test those people. If you want to control the spread, you want to limit the number of people who get this infection and die from this infection, you have to get to the asymptomatic people. That is a different testing regime and requires a lot more tests."
Meanwhile, the coronavirus is "already at flu-level deaths for the year," said Emanuel. "That has to have you really worried if you're trying to create policy."
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