UPDATE: The WHO clarified Tuesday, June 9, that asymptomatic spread may account for up to 40% of COVID-19 transmission.
The original report follows.
After nearly three months of coronavirus-related shutdowns that put tens of millions of Americans out of work, destroyed untold numbers of businesses, and shuttered schools across the land, the World Health Organization now says asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 — cited as one of the reasons for social distancing policies — rarely spread the virus, CNBC reported.
What are the details?
The WHO's revelation Monday followed preliminary findings from earliest COVID-19 outbreaks that those without symptoms could spread the virus to others, the network said.
"From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual," said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, according to CNBC. "It's very rare."
Some people, particularly young and otherwise healthy individuals, can be infected by the coronavirus but never develop symptoms — or develop only mild symptoms, the network said.
"We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing," Van Kerkhove added, according to CNBC. "They're following asymptomatic cases. They're following contacts. And they're not finding secondary transmission onward. It's very rare."
Asymptomatic transmission was one reason for social distancing
A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published April 1 cited the "potential for presymptomatic transmission" as a reason for the importance of social distancing, the network said.
The CDC study added that "these findings also suggest that 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," CNBC added.
Van Kerkhove said, "What we really want to be focused on is following the symptomatic cases. If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those contacts, we would drastically reduce" the spread, the network reported.
A little breakdown of health experts' impact so far
Elected officials have endlessly insisted their decisions to ruin economies and lives through business shutdowns and social distancing were guided by health experts and "science."
So here's a look at how some of that's been working out:
- In the early stages of the pandemic, the WHO repeated the Chinese government's claims that COVID-19 was not spread through human-to-human transmission.
- President Donald Trump cut funding to the WHO in April over its purported role in repeating China's lies and misinformation about COVID-19. Then last month Trump said the U.S. will formally cut ties with the organization.
- The CIA believes Chinese officials pressured the WHO to not alert the global community about the virus' dangers early on.
- Last month, the CDC updated its COVID-19 guidance to say the virus "does not spread easily" on contaminated surfaces, previously a major fear.
- A week after Trump said he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 preventative measure, the WHO said it was temporarily stopping trials on the drug over safety concerns.
- Trump critics used an influential study to attack his hydroxychloroquine recommendations — but the authors last week retracted their study. And the WHO resumed its trials.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent member of the White House's coronavirus task force, said late last month that a second wave of COVID-19 may not happen and that wearing a mask is largely symbolic at this point.
- Fauci last week said it's time to start thinking about reopening schools and any insistence that we "shouldn't open schools" is "a bit of a reach."
- And while health and elected officials have come down hard on all manner of gatherings over fear of spreading COVID-19, health experts performed some astonishing gymnastics to back massive George Floyd protests that have drawn thousands of close-quartered participants. Why? "White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19," the experts wrote.