Scientists Slammed The WHO’s Claim About Very Rare Transmission From Asymptomatic Cases
A high-stakes dispute over whether new COVID-19 cases are being spread by people without any symptoms has the World Health Organization once again on the defensive.
After calling asymptomatic transmissions “very rare” on Monday, triggering a firestorm of criticism from public health experts, the WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove walked back her comments, saying Tuesday, “We don’t have that answer yet,” and adding, “This is a major unknown.”
Initially, Van Kerkhove had pointed to a small number of studies suggesting that 14% or fewer of coronavirus infections sprang from asymptomatic cases. She also referenced unreleased contact tracing data submitted to the WHO by unidentified “Member States” suggesting that asymptomatic individuals were much less likely to transmit the virus to others than those who develop symptoms.
Scientists immediately called those statements into question. Some estimates suggest that 40% to 45% of infections spring from people with no symptoms.
“All of the best evidence suggests that people without symptoms can and do readily spread SARS-CoV2,” a Harvard Global Health Institute statement said on Tuesday morning.
Infectious disease expert Marm Kilpatrick of the University of California, Santa Cruz …continued .