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unlocking the secret

Why Iceland might be the key to understanding coronavirus

Iceland has a population of just over 360,000 — a little bit larger than Colorado Springs, Colorado. And that's precisely why it may ultimately be the country that could unlock a lot of coronavirus unknowns and provide much better data as the world fights the virus, BuzzFeed News reports.

The island country is providing large-scale COVID-19 testing for its citizens, which is made easier by its small population, but they're crucially offering tests to people who aren't exhibiting symptoms. That differs most other countries, who are saving their limited supply for people most clearly in need.

Much has been made, however, about the lack of good data floating around because there's almost certainly at least a decent number of undetected mild or asymptomatic cases. Iceland could help change people's understanding about both the number of cases out there, as well as transmission and fatality rates. "This effort is intended to gather insight into the actual prevalence of the virus in the community, as most countries are almost exclusively testing symptomatic individuals at this time," Thorolfur Guðnason, Iceland's chief epidemiologist, told BuzzFeed.

So far, there have been 3,787 tests administered in Iceland (the government says that's a higher proportion of the population than any other country), which have yielded a total of 218 positive tests. The early results show "a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic." The sample size will increase, so it's probably worth keeping an eye on Iceland over the next few weeks. Read more at BuzzFeed News.