WHO now says coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of coronavirus
In the earliest outbreaks of coronavirus, preliminary evidence indicated that coronavirus could spread even if people didn’t have symptoms. Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) is saying that transmission of the coronavirus by asymptomatic people (who aren’t showing symptoms) is “very rare.” The announcement casts doubts on concerns by some researchers that the virus could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections.
In a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters on Monday, Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for coronavirus response and head of the emerging diseases and zoonoses unit, says coronavirus patients who don’t have any symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus.
“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Van Kerkhove said. The announcement casts doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections. The new revelation may have major implications for government policy.
“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They’re following asymptomatic cases, they’re following contacts and they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It is very rare — and much of that is not published in the literature,” she said. “We are constantly looking at this data and we’re trying to get more information from countries to truly answer this question. It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual actually transmits onward.”
Van Kerkhove recommended that government responses should focus on detecting and isolating infected people with symptoms, and tracking anyone who might have come into contact with them. She, however, admitted that some studies have indicated asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread in nursing homes and in household settings.
“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing,” she said. “They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare.”
You can watch the entire video below.