Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, says the World Health Organization had to backtrack on its statement about asymptomatic spread of the coronavirus being rare because that simply “was not correct.”
WHO’s technical lead on the pandemic has tried to clear up “misunderstandings” about comments she made that were widely understood to suggest that people without COVID-19 symptoms rarely transmit the virus. Maria Van Kerkhove insisted Tuesday that she was referring only to a few studies, not a complete picture.
Weighing in on Wednesday, Fauci said the range of ways symptoms manifest is “extraordinary” in that some infected people have no or barely noticeable symptoms while others have more severe symptoms that require them to be hospitalized in intensive care.
Fauci said on ABC: “What happened the other day is that a member of the WHO was saying that transmission from an asymptomatic person to an uninfected person was very rare.”
He continued: “They walked that back because there’s no evidence to indicate that’s the case. And, in fact, the evidence that we have, given the percentage of people, which is about 25, 45% of the totality of infected people, likely are without symptoms. And we know from epidemiological studies that they can transmit to someone who is uninfected, even when they’re without symptoms. So to make a statement — to say that’s a rare event — was not correct. And that’s the reason why the WHO walked that back.”