Washington: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has had to retract a statement made a few days ago by its technical head dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, regarding transmission of the virus through asymptomatic patients.
During a press briefing on Monday, epidemiologist and WHO Technical Head on coronavirus pandemic Maria van Kerkhove said that many countries, after identifying asymptomatic cases, were not able to detect what caused further 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,” said Van Kerkhove. “It’s very rare.”
“What we really want to be focused on is following 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 the outbreak,” Van Kerkhove had stated.
WHO came under fire following these statements as scientists and health experts all over the world have been saying the exact opposite.
The world’s leading health organization thereafter took back the statement made by Van Kerkhove and tried to clarify the misunderstanding. They said asymptomatic patients can actually cause 40 per cent of transmissions.
Van Kerkhove herself clarified that asymptomatic spread is a really complex question and a lot is still unknown.
“We don’t actually have that answer yet,” she said. “I was responding to a question at the press conference. I wasn’t stating a policy of WHO or anything like that. I was just trying to articulate what we know,” she said.
“And in that, I used the phrase ‘very rare,’ and I think that that’s a misunderstanding to state that asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare. I was referring to a small subset of studies. I also referred to some data that isn’t published.”