In a WHO (World Health Organization) press briefing held at Geneva on June 8, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove (WHO’s epidemiologist and technical lead on COVID-19), said that asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is ‘very rare’.
Despite numerous experts worldwide claiming that asymptomatic transmission is more frequent and hard to contain, Dr Kerkhove said, “We are constantly looking at the data and trying to get more information from countries to truly answer this question. It still appears to be rare that asymptomatic individuals actually transmit onward.”
“Comprehensive studies on transmission from asymptomatic individuals are difficult to conduct but the available evidence from the contact tracing reported by member states suggests that asymptomatically-infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms,” the WHO said in guidelines, which it had issued last week.
When questioned in more detail about the increasing asymptomatic spread in many countries, Dr Kerkhove said that many of them turn out to have mild disease or unusual symptoms. WHO has maintained that this type of spread is not the reason for uncontained pandemic and it probably accounts for about six per cent of spread, at most.
Dr Kerkhove said that based on data from countries, when asymptomatic COVID-19 are tracked over a long period to see if they spread the disease, there are ‘very few’ cases of the spread.