A flood of new research suggests that far more people have had the coronavirus without any symptoms, fueling hope that it will turn out to be much less lethal than originally feared.
While that's clearly good news, it also means it's impossible to know who around you may be contagious. That complicates decisions about returning to work, school and normal life.
In the last week, reports of silent infections have come from a homeless shelter in Boston, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, pregnant women at a New York hospital, several European countries and California.
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 25% of infected people might not have symptoms. The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Hyten, thinks it may be as high as 60% to 70% among military personnel.
None of these numbers can be fully trusted because they're based on flawed and inadequate testing, said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard's School of Public Health.
Collectively, though, they suggest "we have just been off the mark by huge, huge numbers" for estimating total infections, he said.
Worldwide, more than 2.3 million infections and more than 160,000 deaths have been confirmed. The virus has caused nearly unprecedented economic and social harm since its existence was reported in early January.