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Risk of Asymptomatic Patients Transmitting Virus Appears to Be Low


UPDATE: 6/9/2020 | 8:30am

The World Health Organization (WHO) is clarifying original statements made by Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, an infectious disease epidemiologist, during a WHO press conference on June 8 about the risk of COVID-19 transmission by asymptomatic people being low. Van Kerkhove noted that not enough research is available to make this type of statement globally. Public health experts and scientists widely disagreed with Van Kerkhove’s original statements, noting that the contract tracing models used in the research WHO cited did not distinguish between asymptomatic individuals (never exhibit symptoms) and presymptomatic people (had yet to develop symptoms but would eventually). The global number of COVID-19 cases passed 7 million on June 7, with more than 400,000 deaths. Read more here.

Original Article:

Initially, it was thought that the novel coronavirus could spread easily from an individual who was infected but without symptoms during person-to-person contact. Now new research from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that while possible, this type of transmission is very rare. The data come from countries doing intensive contract tracing that have found secondary transmission from asymptomatic cases to be quite low. As the implementation of social distancing and stay-at-home orders were based on the thought that the novel coronavirus could spread easily among asymptomatic individuals, public policy implications may be significant. WHO states that more research is necessary to answer this question definitively, but the organization suggests that countries should focus their efforts on testing, diagnosing, and isolating symptomatic patients. Read more here.

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