The World Health Organization (WHO) has clarified its earlier statements after an official revealed that scientists are yet to determine how frequently people with asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 pass the disease on to other.
Earlier on the embattled organisation had seemed to suggest that such spread is “very rare.”
The WHO’s original comments incited strong pushback from outside public health experts, who suggested the agency had erred, or at least miscommunicated, when it said people who didn’t show symptoms were unlikely to spread the virus.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on the Covid-19 pandemic, on Tuesday cleared the confusion by saying they are yet to reach a concrete decision.
“The majority of transmission that we know about is that people who have symptoms transmit the virus to other people through infectious droplets,” Van Kerkhove said.
“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 answer yet.”
Research has shown that people become infectious before they start feeling sick, during that presymptomatic period.