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CDC Modified COVID-19 Testing Guidelines to Exclude Asymptomatics

Monday, August 24, the CDC quietly modified its testing guidelines and no longer requires people who are asymptomatic to get tested for the virus.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in subtly modified testing guidelines released on Tuesday, August 25, People who are exposed to a person with coronavirus but are asymptomatic are no longer encouraged to get tested for the coronavirus.

The CDC now says that anyone who has been within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes, or is in a high coronavirus transmission area and has attended public or private gatherings for more than 10 people without widespread physical distancing and mask-wearing, is not required to test for the virus unless they’re in an at-risk population.

The newly released guidelines also state: “It is important to realize that you can be infected and spread the virus but feel well and have no symptoms.”

However, Experts questioned the revision, pointing to the importance of identifying infections in the small window immediately before the onset of symptoms, when many individuals appear to be most contagious.

Models suggest that about half of transmission events can be traced back to individuals still in this so-called pre-symptomatic stage before they start to feel ill — if they ever feel sick at all.

According to Dr. Krutika Kuppallli, an Infectious Disease Physician, “This is potentially dangerous.”

Restricting testing to only people with obvious symptoms of COVID-19 means “you’re not looking for a lot of people who are potential spreaders of disease,” she added. “I feel like this is going to make things worse.”

The World Health Organization said the virus is mainly being spread by young people who are unaware that they are infected. 

“The epidemic is changing,” WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Director, Takeshi Kasai, said at a virtual briefing reported Reuters.

“People in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are increasingly driving the spread,” he said. “Many are unaware they are infected. This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable.”