What the rest of the world can learn from Iceland’s mass coronavirus testing project

| | April 13, 2020
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Big data can come from small places.

Iceland’s isolated location and sparse population mean that some vital information about the novel coronavirus is coming out of the island nation — especially considering that it’s already tested 10% of its population, which is more than any other country, according to USA Today.

And the scariest finding: At any given time, about half of its citizens who have the coronavirus — and don’t know it — are not showing any symptoms. That’s double the CDC’s recent estimate that as many as one in four people with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic.

So that means the “best data” on coronavirus is coming from Iceland at the moment, John P.A. Ioannidis of Stanford University told USA Today. And Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE genetics, which is helping to carry out Iceland’s testing efforts, said that Iceland may be one of the best live coronavirus laboratories we have in the world as it continues to randomly test its people.

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And it’s already made some important discoveries. Among them: that between 0.3% and 0.8% of Iceland’s population is infected with the coronavirus, while half of those who tested positive were asymptomatic as the time of their tests.

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