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Dr. Fauci Just Said How Exactly You'll Catch COVID

The virus spreads via droplets and aerosols—and from asymptomatic people.
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Despite the politicization of the coronavirus, it has been a long-held thought on both sides of the aisle that people can transmit diseases to one another—why else would you recoil when someone sneezes on you? But a sneeze is one thing. The coronavirus is a particularly sneaky disease because it can be spread by people with no symptoms. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and member of the Coronavirus Task Force, spoke at American University's "The Kennedy Political Union Presents, Dr. Anthony Fauci" seminar about the ways COVID-19 is transmissible. Read on, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

1

Nearly Half the Transmissions are From People With Zero Symptoms

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"We've learned a lot from the very first days where there was misinformation that this was something that jumped from an animal to a human and predominantly was a zoonotic that just jumped species," he said. "So if you stayed away from a wet market, you'd be okay, then we learned no. So it actually is transmitted from person to person thought to be inefficiently transmitted. Then we found out not so it's transmitted quite efficiently from human to human. In fact, it is one of the most spectacularly efficient viruses and transmitting, as we know, from the super spreader events. Now, the things that we've also learned that are critical, that we did not know in the first month or two, is that about 40 to 50% of all the infections are asymptomatic. Namely, there are a large number of people who are infected, who have no symptoms, who do not know that they are infected."

2

It's Transmitted by Droplets

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"Then we found out that if you do modeling studies, a substantial proportion of the infections that are transmitted are actually transmitted from someone with no symptoms to someone who's uninfected. We know it's transmitted by the respiratory route. It's transmitted by droplets. Now be careful because most people think droplets all, when you go, I chew and you sneeze, or you cough. It has been clearly shown now that respiratory droplets come out of your mouth when you just speak and it comes out even more when you sing. So you could feel perfectly well, be speaking to someone who does not know that they are infected and you could have droplets coming out."

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3

It's Transmitted by Aerosol

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"A classic droplet is one that if I were here and I was six feet away from [someone], and I was talking to her, those droplets would drop to the ground before they reached her at six or seven feet. However, when you have aerosol where the particles hang around the air, and this is particularly relevant in closed spaces, indoor, which is the reason why my anxiety level increases as we get to the fall and the winter cause aerosol can hang around for more than just a second or two. It can be multiple seconds or even minutes. And we see that in certain epidemiological situations, one in particular, in a restaurant in China where people fall distant from the index case that was infected, got infected, very likely because the air conditioning recirculated, the aerosol that was out of a person's mouth who was not symptomatic, and that was transmitted. So it's a highly transmissible respiratory virus. It is a concern."

4

You Might Be Contagious for This Long

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"It is still evolving," he said. "The more we learn, the more we get more confidence of the bracket that we're in." Regarding the incubation period, he added: "Let's say, if I got exposed right now that the median time for me to get symptoms would be about five days. The range is two to 14 days. Okay. Now, so having said that on doing viral isolation studies, that you start replicating virus in your nasal pharynx, and therefore are transmissible, usually a couple of days before you become symptomatic. And then for several days after, but what we have noticed that some people are symptomatic, but after a couple of days, you can't isolate virus from them. And you say, wait a minute is still sick. Why can't I isolate the virus? Because what you're seeing is the effects of the infection and inflammation or things like that. And that person may not be transmissible. So there's probably a bracket from a couple of days before you get symptomatic to a few days after you've been symptomatic."

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5

How to Avoid COVID-19

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"The big question is what about people who don't have any symptoms?" said Fauci. "And it's very difficult to study them because you don't know when they got infected. So if you're studying me today and I have the virus, is it because I got infected yesterday? Or, because I got infected six days ago. And that's the thing that larger studies are going to be able to give us information about that." As for yourself, to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, stay outdoors more than indoors when with people you're not sheltering with, wear your face mask, social distance, and don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.