Should you “act like you have it”?


There is no evidence to support government advice to “act like you have it”.  To spread the virus, a viral load is needed. A light viral load which is not enough to spread a disease will be present in someone who is pre-symptomatic, i.e. up to two days before symptoms present. A heavy viral load is present in those with symptoms i.e. a person will already have COVID-19.

The idea of asymptomatic spread originated in the report of a Chinese woman visiting Europe on business in late 2019 and becoming the first asymptomatic ‘super-spreader’. However, investigation revealed that the woman was taking medication i.e. she had symptoms.

On 7 June 2020, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, told a press conference that “from the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual.” She added for emphasis: “It’s very rare.”

Key Points & Evidence

In March 2020, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, was advised that SARS-CoV-2 had been downgraded from a High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID). That is it was not considered to be a disease of concern. Most people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus will experience mild or no symptoms and only a minority will develop the disease COVID-19.


"Post-lockdown SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening in nearly ten million residents of Wuhan", Nature, 20 November 2020. The study revealed there was not one documented case of asymptomatic (no symptoms) spread, something that hardly ever happens in a study of this kind.


"Asymptomatic spread revisited" in the American Institute of Economic Research (AEIR), 22 November 2020


"Covid-19: Asymptomatic cases may not be infectious, Wuhan study indicates", British Medical Journal (BMJ), 1 December 2020


"Asymptomatic spread: who can really spread COVID-19?”, HART Group

“Positive PCR is not evidence of infectiousness. Finding people who test positive but show no symptoms during an outbreak is often evidence of immunity, not evidence of transmission. Infectiousness or transmission of a virus requires active infection resulting in high levels of viral replication and shedding. Symptoms, such as coughing, are the real drivers of spread.”



“Asymptomatic people can have trace of the virus on mucus membrane. But can they spread it? That’s the critical question. The largest retrospective study of 10 million people in Wuhan in November 2020, published in Nature Communications, concluded ‘not that asymptomatic spread is rare or that the science is uncertain. The study revealed something that hardly ever happens in these kinds of studies. There was not one documented case.

“We’re in this ridiculous state where people are being invited to test themselves twice a week with a test that’s really unreliable,” says Will Irving, professor of virology at Nottingham university, quoted in the Financial Times, 12 Nov 2021/  Referring to the lateral flow devices, he adds that “if you get a negative result it doesn’t mean you haven’t got it, if you get a positive result, it doesn’t mean you’ve got it.”

Posted: 29th June 2021

Tagged: Asymptomatic Transmission, Face Masks, presymptomatic, symptoms, Testing, viral load

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