The World Health Organization held a news conference Monday in which they stated that asymptomatic Coronavirus patients rarely transmit the virus to others, yet quickly walked back the claim


On Monday, the World Health Organization held a news conference and stated that asymptomatic Coronavirus patients rarely transmit the virus to others, but quickly walked back the claim. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for the COVID-19 response, said “It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual actually transmits [the virus] onward,” and that health officials should concentrate on finding and isolating people who do have symptoms in order to stop the pandemic (The Hill). The following day, however, Kerkhove walked back her statement and claimed, “We do know that some people who are asymptomatic can transmit the virus on,” and, “What we need to better understand is how many people in the population don’t have symptoms. And, separately, how many of those individuals go on to transmit [the virus] to others” (Science News). ~

According to The Scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md, criticized the WHO’s statement regarding asymptomatic transmission, and claimed that, “We know that there is asymptomatic transmission…. What we do not know is the extent to which that occurs.” Furthermore, Science News held a study in which scientists swabbed the noses of ninety-four coronavirus patients admitted to the Guangzhou Eighth People’s Hospital in China from January 21 through February 14. According to the study, “Amounts of the virus’s genetic material peaked quickly after the onset of symptoms, then declined over about 21 days” (Science News). That result indicates that virus production may be strongest at the start of the infection. Science News then analyzed seventy-seven infector-infectee pairs and found that contagiousness starts 2.3 days before symptoms begin and peaks 0.7 days before symptoms start. ~

Data on how much infectious virus is present in the noses of asymptomatic people are contradictory, says Marm Kilpatrick, an infectious disease researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz. But what is clear is the fact that the general public should continue to take precautionary measures to keep themselves, and others, safe in this unprecedented time. ~

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