WHO Makes a Statement About Wuhan Virus Transmission That Has Heads Spinning Again

AP featured image
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks to the media after the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in Congo, in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. The World Health Organization says it is “deeply concerned” by the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo but the situation does not yet warrant being declared a global emergency. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

The World Health Organization came out with a finding today that set some people’s heads spinning.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said that “from the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual. It’s very rare.”

From MarketWatch:

“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing,” Van Kerkhove said at a briefing Monday from the U.N.’s headquarters. “They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward.”

She said while there was some sign of transmission in nursing homes and households it was rare and “What we really want to be focused on is following the symptomatic cases,” Van Kerkhove said.

In other words, while it’s possible to get it from asymptomatic people, those aren’t the folks driving the virus spread. This is contrary to what officials have said early on, that the virus was more challenging because of asymptomatic spread and that’s why we had to stay inside and be masked because we didn’t know if we had it and we could be killing Grandma.


In April, the CDC had said that the possibility of transmission from asymptomatic people was why we needed to limit contact not just of the obviously sick or symptomatic people but of the healthy/apparently healthy as well.

“To control the pandemic, it might not be enough for only persons with symptoms to limit their contact with others because persons without symptoms might transmit infection,” the CDC said.

The WHO’s statement has naturally set heads spinning and wondering again about the need or efficacy of the severe lockdowns. If we should have focused on the symptomatic why were the asymptomatic and the healthy locked down?

Ashish Jha incoming dean at the Brown School of Public Health, raised the question of what was WHO talking about when they said “asymptomatic” – do they mean truly asymptomatic cases (those who have the disease but never develop symptoms) or pre-symptomatic (those who have the virus before they start showing symptoms).


So it depends exactly what they are talking about. And of course, they are not at all trustworthy giving their shifting statements and toadying for China. But if they are really talking anyone without symptoms showing than yes, that’s one more nail in the coffin of the lockdowns at this point.


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