An official from the World Health Organization said this week that it was rare for an asymptomatic person who is covid positive to transmit the disease to another. That statement caused controversy among circles of officials who want to perpetuate national lockdowns.
The WHO official was forced to recant her statements the next day.
“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said on Monday. Van Kerkhove is the head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit and she was speaking at a press briefing at WHO headquarters in Geneva. “It’s very rare,” she added.
By Tuesday she was forced to “clarify” her statements.
Asymptomatic spread is a “really complex question” and a lot has yet to be determined, Van Kerkhove said. “We don’t actually have that answer yet.”
“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 added.
“And in that, I used the phrase ‘very rare,’ and I think that that’s misunderstanding to state that asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare. I was referring to a small subset of studies.”
It’s unclear what Van Kerkhove means by “referring to a small subset of studies,” and why studies that were conducted soundly should not yield results that health officials can take into consideration when setting public policy.
If it’s true that it is “very rare” for an asymptomatic person to transmit covid19 to another individual it would mean that much of the lockdown policies that have been put into effect across the world would be unnecessary.
“What we really want to be focused on is following the symptomatic cases,” Van Kerkhove said during her original comments. “If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those contacts, we would drastically reduce” the spread of the disease.
The backtrack caused many news outlets to publish “corrections” of Van Kerkhove’s comments. One such case can be found here on CNBC.
We highlighted how another mainstream news outlet, Forbes, also rushed to censor itself when an article it published about a Norwegian study that found it unlikely for Covid19 to have occurred naturally and not be manmade, began to get traffic.