Asymptomatic vs. Presymptomatic

COVID-19 can present with symptoms ranging from virtually none at all to serious illness requiring hospitalization. But there is a big difference between someone who has an asymptomatic case of COVID and someone who is presymptomatic—a distinction that tripped up the WHO back in June.

Asymptomatic individuals test positive for COVID-19 but “lack symptoms that would indicate SARS-CoV-2 infection.” Some people may not experience any symptoms during the entire course of their COVID-19 infection.

But some people may develop symptoms days after a positive test. These individuals would be classified as having been presymptomatic at the time of their positive test; they will eventually develop symptoms.