Magnitude of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases throughout the course of infection: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Muluneh Alene, Leltework Yismaw, Moges Agazhe Assemie, Daniel Bekele Ketema, Belayneh Mengist, Bekalu Kassie, Tilahun Yemanu Birhan, Kin On Kwok
2021 PLoS ONE  
Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections are responsible for potentially significant transmission of COVID-19. Worldwide, a number of studies were conducted to estimate the magnitude of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. However, there is a need for more robust and well-designed studies to have a relevant public health intervention. Synthesis of the available studies significantly strengthens the quality of evidences for public health practice. Thus, this systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to
more » ... sis aimed to determine the overall magnitude of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases throughout the course of infection using available evidences. Methods We followed the PRISMA checklist to present this study. Two experienced review authors (MA and DBK) were systematically searched international electronic databases for studies. We performed meta-analysis using R statistical software. The overall weighted proportion of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases throughout the course infection was computed. The pooled estimates with 95% confidence intervals were presented using forest plot. Egger's tests were used to assess publication bias, and primary estimates were pooled using a random effects model. Furthermore, a sensitivity analysis was conducted to assure the robustness of the result. Results A total of 28 studies that satisfied the eligibility criteria were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. Consequently, in the meta-analysis, a total of 6,071 COVID-19 cases were included. The proportion of asymptomatic infections among the included studies ranged from 1.4% to 78.3%. The findings of this meta-analysis showed that the weighted pooled proportion of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases throughout the course of infection was 25% (95%CI: 16–38). The leave-one out result also revealed that the weighted pooled average of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection was between 28% and 31.4%. Conclusions In conclusion, one-fourth of SARS-CoV-2 infections are remained asymptomatic throughout the course infection. Scale-up of testing, which targeting high risk populations is recommended to tackle the pandemic.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0249090 pmid:33755688 fatcat:wmrwc24o7zb2xlwsnhgo7shqbu