WHO Clarifies Statement On Asymptomatic Spread Of Novel Coronavirus; NYT Examines Agency’s Ability To Analyze, Communicate Rapidly Changing Research Results, Data

New York Times: In the WHO’s Coronavirus Stumbles, Some Scientists See a Pattern
“Even as the World Health Organization leads the worldwide response to the coronavirus pandemic, the agency is failing to take stock of rapidly evolving research findings and to communicate clearly about them, several scientists warned on Tuesday. In a news briefing on Monday, a WHO official asserted that transmission of the coronavirus by people without symptoms is ‘very rare.’ Following concerted pushback from researchers, officials on Tuesday walked back the claim, saying it was a ‘misunderstanding.’ But it is not the first time the WHO’s assessment has seemed to lag behind scientific opinion. … These scientific disagreements have wide policy implications. Many countries, including the United States, adopted lockdown strategies because they recognized that isolating only people who were sick might not be enough to contain the epidemic…” (Mandavilli, 6/9).

STAT: ‘We don’t actually have that answer yet’: WHO clarifies comments on asymptomatic spread of Covid-19
“…Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on the Covid-19 pandemic, made it very clear Tuesday that the actual rates of asymptomatic transmission aren’t yet known. … Some of the confusion boiled down to the details of what an asymptomatic infection actually is, and the different ways the term is used. While some cases of Covid-19 are fully asymptomatic, sometimes the word is also used to describe people who haven’t started showing symptoms yet, when they are presymptomatic. Research has shown that people become infectious before they start feeling sick, during that presymptomatic period…” (Joseph, 6/9).

Additional coverage of the WHO’s clarification is available from CNN, Forbes, The Hill, NPR, POLITICO, Reuters, Slate, UPI, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KFF | twitter.com/kff

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.