When it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has looked to the World Health Organization (WHO) for guidance. However, the information coming from key WHO personnel has not always been clear.
In this video, you’ll observe that during a June 8, 2020, press briefing, Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for the COVID-19 pandemic, made it very clear that people who have COVID-19 without any symptoms “rarely” transmit the disease to others.
She explained that in countries that are doing contact tracing, asymptomatic cases are being followed, and these people are not passing the disease on to others.
However, the next day, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, quickly backpedaled Maria Van Kerkhove’s statement, saying the remarks were “misinterpreted or maybe we didn’t use the most elegant words to explain that”.
A preprint systematic review and meta-analysis, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, noted, “The prevalence of true asymptomatic COVID-19 cases is critical to policymakers when considering the effectiveness of mitigation measures against the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.”
As such, they set out to analyze all available research on rates of asymptomatic disease and transmission. Overall, they screened 998 articles from six countries that tested 21,035 at-risk people. Of those tested, 559 were positive and 83 were asymptomatic. In this analysis, the proportion of asymptomatic cases ranged from 4% to 41%, with a fixed effect proportion of 15%.
While four of the studies showed evidence of transmission of Covid-19 infection from asymptomatic carriers, they “suggested considerably lower rates than symptomatic cases.” Specifically, rates of transmission from asymptomatic cases ranged from none to 2.2%, compared to 0.8% to 15.4% for symptomatic cases. The researchers concluded:
“Estimates of asymptomatic rate and transmission rate are vital parameters for modeling studies. Our estimates of the proportion of asymptomatic cases and their transmission rates suggest that asymptomatic spread is unlikely to be a major driver of clusters or community transmission of infection …”
So What Are the Implications?
One of the major reasons why governments have locked down everyone and not just those who present with Covid-19 symptoms, is on the premise that you may be one of those people infected with Covid-19 but not experiencing any symptoms (asymptomatic) but as a ‘carrier’ of the disease, you go out into society and infect other people. Combine this with the R-o factor of 3 – one person infects three others, who in turn, each infect another three persons, leading to an “exponential curve” of infection, of which, some will die.
But if the infection rate from asymptomatic carriers is lower than we have been led to believe, then what of the entire premise for socially isolating everyone and closing public venues, destroying businesses, etc?
This question was presented to high profile Drs Zeke Emanuel and Dave Campbell, who attempt to clarify the situation. Bottom line:- it’s all about the timing.
This video below contains the full interview with the doctors.