Van Kerkhove said, “From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person transmits onward to a secondary individual.” She continues, “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.”
However, her statements have sparked debate. Some groups are saying that wearing masks and practicing social distancing are not necessary because of her remarks.
Soon after, Van Kerkhove backtracked on her comments. She said that her statement was based on smaller studies, and should not be taken as WHO’s recommendations. People should still follow the WHO protocol when it comes to preventing the spread of the disease.
A number of studies have described individuals who were asymptomatic at the time of testing but upon following up, they were found to be “pre-symptomatic” and they would eventually go on to develop COVID-19 symptoms.
Is There Asymptomatic Transmission of the Coronavirus Disease? What does the WHO have to say?
Because of the resulting confusion and conflicting information, the WHO released a statement in an attempt to clear things up. In her statement, Van Kerkhove shared that “The majority of transmission that we know about is that people who have symptoms transmit the virus to other people through infectious droplets — but there are a subset of people who don’t develop symptoms, and to truly understand how many people don’t have symptoms, we don’t actually have that answered yet.”
She continues, “We do know that some people who are asymptomatic, or some people who don’t have symptoms, can transmit the virus on. So what we need to better understand is how many of the people in the population don’t have symptoms and separately how many of those individuals go on to transmit to others.”
So is there asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus disease? Van Kerkhove also clarified that asymptomatic transmission of the virus is still a “large unknown.”
Is There Asymptomatic Transmission of the Coronavirus Disease? What is the Verdict?
To put it simply, we do not really know the answer yet. The medical community needs to conduct more studies to find out whether or not COVID-19 can be spread by asymptomatic individuals. The current information is inconclusive.
Additionally, we have evolving information regarding COVID-19’s transmission. This mainly stems from the fact that COVID-19 is a very new virus, and researchers are still learning more about it every day.