The World Health Organization (WHO) recently stated that the spread of the novel coronavirus was unlikely due to those who were asymptomatic in a stunning announcement (via CNBC). The new findings come as countries across the world begin crafting public policies that seek to balance reopening their economies with ensuring public safety.
Preliminary evidence had previously suggested that the virus spread during any person-to-person contact, even if the infected person did not display any symptoms. As a result, many of the lockdown measures adopted by countries like the United States were implemented specifically due to the threat of asymptomatic transmission.
"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," stated a release from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, it now appears that while it is possible that asymptomatic transmission can occur, it is "rare."
"From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual," explained Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit.
"It's very rare," she repeated during a news briefing from the United Nations agency's Geneva headquarters.
Van Kerkhove said that researchers noted that asymptomatic spread was uncommon after analyzing data from countries with intense tracing programs in place. Those who followed the contacts of asymptomatic patients found that there was almost no secondary transmission present.
That said, health experts have emphasized that more research is needed into COVID-19 to fully understand how it has spread across the globe.
Van Kerkhove claimed that she believed the best policy for governments to follow would be to identify and isolate those who have both tested positive for the virus and display symptoms, in addition to tracking anyone in contact with such individuals.
"What we really want to be focused on is following the symptomatic cases," Van Kerkhove explained.
"If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those contacts, we would drastically reduce [the outbreak]," she concluded.
The news about rare asymptomatic transmission is not the only new data concerning the disease. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, researchers have claimed that around 80 percent of all patients were infected from just a small number of super-spreaders.
The pandemic has currently infected around 7 million people across the world, in addition to claiming over 400,000 lives.