People were both confused and in disbelief when Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist and technical lead on the pandemic, said that the transmission of COVID-19 among asymptomatic patients is "very rare." Many wondered why the hell we've all been on lockdown for the past few months if that were the case.


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Earlier today, the World Health Organization officially backtracked on the comments, saying that estimates reveal that nearly half of all transmission might be because of those who don't exhibit any symptoms.

"Some estimates of around 40 percent of transmission may be due to asymptomatic [cases], but those are from models. So I didn’t include that in my answer yesterday but wanted to make sure that I made that clear,” Dr. Van Kerkhove said before adding her initial comments were "a misunderstanding."

“I wasn’t stating a policy of WHO or anything like that,” she continued. “We do know that some people who are asymptomatic, or some people who do not have symptoms, can transmit the virus on.”

Mike Ryan, head of emergency programs for the WHO, said there was no "intent of WHO to say there is a new or different policy,” adding, "There is still too much unknown about this virus and still too much unknown about its transmission dynamics.”

Ryan did add those infected are the most contagious when their symptoms are visibly bad. "“Now as we look at COVID-19, we have an infectious pathogen that is present in the upper airway for which the viral loads are peaking at the time you are just beginning to get sick," Ryan said. 

[Via]