Asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is rare: WHO official

9th June: The top official of the World Health Organization has said that it appears very rare for an asymptomatic patient of coronavirus to transmit it to another person.

According to a report by Baaghi TV, a little bit of good news has been shared by the World Health Organization regarding the fight against the deadly pandemic.

“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a second individual,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, when asked about the issue at a press briefing.

She noted that the answer is not definitive. “We are constantly looking at this data, and we’re trying to get more information from countries to truly answer this question,” she said. “It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual actually transmits onward.”

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According to Maria Van Kerkove, WHO had found detailed reports from some countries that detailed contact tracing has not found significant spread from asymptomatic people.

“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,” Van Kerkhove said. “It’s very rare. Much of that is not published in the literature.”

However, Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, expressed some skepticism on the claim by WHO and said he thinks asymptomatic transmission is, in fact, an important source of spread and that some modeling shows as much as 40 to 60 percent of transmission is from people without symptoms.

Jha points out that the World Health Organization is making a distinction between asymptomatic spread and presymptomatic spread when someone eventually develops symptoms but spreads the virus before they do.

However, if it’s true that the asymptomatic spread of the virus is rare then it would be easier to contain the transmission because there would be less worry about people unwittingly spreading the virus as they went about their lives without any symptoms.

Peter Hotez, an infectious disease expert at Baylor University, in response to the WHO statement on Monday, tweeted, ” “If this turns out to be true it would be a game-changer, but I think it would be really important for us to know whether CDC concurs?”

Van Kerkhove stresses the need on tracking the symptomatic cases.

“If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts, and quarantined those contacts, we would drastically reduce [transmission],” she said.

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