Estimating the Prevalence of Asymptomatic COVID-19 Cases and Their Contribution in Transmission - Using Henan Province, China, as an Example

Chunyu Li, Yuchen Zhu, Chang Qi, Lili Liu, Dandan Zhang, Xu Wang, Kaili She, Yan Jia, Tingxuan Liu, Daihai He, Momiao Xiong, Xiujun Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background: Novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2), is now sweeping across the world. A substantial proportion of infections only lead to mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, but the proportion and infectivity of asymptomatic infections remains unknown. In this paper, we proposed a model to estimate the proportion and infectivity of asymptomatic cases, using COVID-19 in Henan Province, China, as an example. Methods: We extended the conventional susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered model by including asymptomatic, unconfirmed symptomatic, and quarantined cases. Based on this model, we used daily reported COVID-19 cases from January 21 to February 26, 2020, in Henan Province to estimate the proportion and infectivity of asymptomatic cases, as well as the change of effective reproductive number, Rt. Results: The proportion of asymptomatic cases among COVID-19 infected individuals was 42% and the infectivity was 10% that of symptomatic ones. The basic reproductive number R0 = 2.73, and Rt dropped below 1 on January 31 under a series of measures. Conclusion: The spread of the COVID-19 epidemic was rapid in the early stage, with a large number of asymptomatic infected individuals having relatively low infectivity. However, it was quickly brought under control with national measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number591372
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2021


  • asymptomatic cases
  • COVID-19
  • infectious dynamic model
  • prevention and control measures
  • the effective reproductive number

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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