A top official of the WHO made Tuesday a “clarification” on his comments, claiming the case “very rare” transmission of the new coronavirus by asymptomatic persons, citing a “misunderstanding”.
Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the technical cell in charge of the management of the pandemic at the WHO, had said on Monday that on the basis of studies undertaken in several countries, the transmission of the virus from an asymptomatic individual seemed to be “very rare”.
“We’re trying to get more information of the country to answer really to this question. But it seems unlikely that an asymptomatic individual transmits the disease, was added to the epidemiologist during a virtual press conference from WHO.
These remarks widely relayed on the social networks have been strongly reacting a part of the scientific community.
“Contrary to what the WHO has announced it is not scientifically possible to state that asymptomatic carriers of SARS-CoV-2 are little contaminants”, asserted the professor Gilbert Deray, a doctor at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in paris, on his Twitter account.
Professor Liam Smeeth of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said he was “surprised”.
“There are still some uncertainties at the scientific level, but asymptomatic infections could turn around 30 to 50% of cases. The best scientific studies to date suggest that up to half of the cases were infected by persons with asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic”, he said in a press release.
On Monday evening, Maria Van Kerkhove had made on Twitter for clarification on these statements: “The complete studies on asymptomatic individuals are difficult to conduct, but the available evidence from the tracing of contacts provided by the member States (of the WHO) suggest that people who are infected and asymptomatic, are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who development of symptoms”.
During a discussion broadcast on the Twitter account of the WHO Tuesday, the science has relied on “a misunderstanding” and wanted to make a “clarification”.
“I was referring to a very small number of studies, two or three” in response to a question from a journalist and not to expose a formal position of the WHO, has assured Maria Van Kerkhove.
“I used the expression “very rare”, but it is a misunderstanding to say that the transmissions asymptomatic are globally very rare, I was referring to the small group of studies,” she added.