One of the countries hit worst by COVID-19 has been Italy. The small northern town of Vò is where the country’s first illness-related death occurred back in March earlier this year. Vò is one of the first places that managed to test its entire community, a population of 3,300, during the pandemic. Here, the world first learned about the danger of transmission through asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, right?
Confusion stirred on Monday, June 8 during a World Health Organization (WHO) press briefing suggesting asymptomatic transmission to actually be a rarity. Immediately, public health experts jumped to negate this new claim. Dr. Maria Van Kerhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, rushed to clarify as well with a live Q&A the following day. Dr. Van Kerhove states, “What we need to better understand is how many of the people in the population don’t have symptoms and separately how many of those individuals go on to transmit to others.”
What it comes down to is an understanding of pre-sympotamatic and asymptomatic transmissions. In pre-symptomatic transmission cases of COVID-19, it simply takes longer for symptoms to affect the carrier. Asymptomatic COVID-19 cases never display symptoms in the carrier, but can still transmit the spread of the virus. Though the actual rates of asymptomatic transmission aren’t currently known, the WHO suggests symptomatic cases present greater risks of transmission. Additionally, the CDC estimates 40% of transmissions occur before symptoms appear.
Perhaps this is what led to the confusion in the first place. Regardless, it sounds like the WHO might be onto something. Could the need for face masks – whose effectiveness remains unclear – soon be coming to an end? Do you find that possibility exciting or relieving, or do you enjoy wearing a face mask?
Face Masks: Hot or Not?