WHO: Data suggests that it is “very rare” for the coronavirus to spread asymptomatically


Research data from contacts around the world suggests that, although there are cases of asymptomatic coronavirus patients transmitting the virus to others, they are not “the main driver” of new infections, officials said. from the World Health Organization at a press conference on Monday.Why is it important: The data available at the outset suggested that person-to-person transmission among those who did not show symptoms could lead to epidemics that were difficult to control. Young people and healthy people with no symptoms were also suspected of being potential carriers of more vulnerable populations.

The big picture: WHO is now relying on data from contact tracing, said Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the emerging diseases and zoonoses unit.

  • “We have a number of reports of countries that follow up on contacts in great detail. They follow asymptomatic cases. They follow contacts. And they don’t find secondary transmission. It’s very rare. ”
  • Press conference Monday, Kerkhove said there were fewer asymptomatic patients than previously thought.
  • ” [I]if you come back and say how many of them are really asymptomatic, we find out that many have really mild illness, very mild illness, they don’t quote COVID symptoms without quotes, which means they may not have it yet developed fever. ”

Between the lines: Do not treat these statements as permission to treat a lack of symptoms as a free card to “get out of the community.”

  • Infected people can be contagious long before you experience symptoms.
  • “Some modeling studies suggest that 40-60% of the spread comes from people who did not have symptoms. ” tweeted Ashish Jha, Dean entering the Brown School of Public Health.
  • Singapore Coronavirus Task Force Reuters also said on Monday that it believed half of the new COVID-19 cases in the country were asymptomatic.

Van Kerkhove later tweeted a statement that cited a June WHO summary on symptomatic, presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission:

“It is difficult to conduct in-depth studies on the transmission of asymptomatic individuals, but the available evidence from contact tracing reported by the Member States suggests that asymptomatically infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms. “

At the end of the line: These statements remind us of how little we understand this virus.


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