WHO’s confusing doubletalk on COVID-19 raises doubts about competence
Well that didn’t take long.
On Monday, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the World Health Organization, announced that asymptomatic people with COVID-19 were not likely to spread the virus.
“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing – they are following asymptomatic cases, they are following contacts and they are not finding secondary transmission onward, it’s very rare,” Kerkhove told reporters during a press briefing. “Much of that is not published in the literature.”
“We’re constantly looking at this data,” she added, “and we’re trying to get more information from countries to truly answer this question. It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual actually transmits onward.”
If true, that offered tremendous hope that life could return to some semblance of normal.
Healthline.com reported at the end of May that various studies have shown that anywhere from 25 percent to perhaps 80 percent of people who contract COVID-19 don’t exhibit any symptoms. But they would have at least some immunity to the coronavirus because they have already had it.
Thus, Dr. Van Kerkhove’s report that those people don’t spread the illness to others indicated that, for one idea, we could isolate and treat those who do exhibit symptoms, therefore protecting everyone else and allowing them to fully return to society.
Alas, Van Kerkhove dashed those hopes on Tuesday, but the equivalent of a “never mind.”
“We do know that some people who are asymptomatic or some people who don’t have symptoms can transmit the virus on,” she said on Tuesday. “What we need to better understand is how many people in the population don’t have symptoms and, separately, how many of those individuals go on to transmit to others.”
Continuing, she said that her use of the phrase “very rare” created a “misunderstanding” because was only referring to a “subset of studies.”
She noted that perhaps 40 percent of people with no symptoms may still transmit the virus to others.
The New York Times on Tuesday related how the WHO has struggled to get its act together during the pandemic.
For instance, the message on Monday about the rarity of transmission from asymptomatic people was similar to what the agency had said back in February. Just last week it endorsed the idea of widespread mask-wearing, and raised doubts about their effectiveness by painting out that practice ws “not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence.” And the WHO has disputed whether COVID-19 can be contracted by the spread of aerosol particles generated by people in close contact by talking or breathing.
The WHO still has not shaken the notion that it does China’s bidding, or that it simply hasn’t changed some of its thinking after President Donald Trump threatened to cut U.S. funding to the agency.
At this point who really believes the WHO?
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