Fauci Slams WHO Over COVID-19 Transmission Claim

Dr. Anthony Fauci has joined other health experts in criticizing the recent claim by the World Health Organization (WHO) that asymptomatic COVID-19 patients are unlikely to transmit the disease to healthy people. He said any person with the coronavirus can spread it with or without symptoms. 

There are now more than 7.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and over 400,000 related deaths. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said asymptomatic patients played an important role in the rapid spread of the disease. 

He made the remarks after Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, announced that transmission from COVID-19 patients to uninfected people was unlikely, New York Post reported Wednesday.

“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Kerkhove said during Monday’s press briefing in Geneva.

Fauci slammed the statement saying WHO did not obtain enough evidence that infected people without symptoms of COVID-19 cannot share the disease to others. He noted that there have been studies that showed a link between asymptomatic patients and the spread of the coronavirus. 

“And in fact, the evidence that we have, given the percentage of people, which is about 25, 45 percent of the totality of infected people, likely are without symptom,” Fauci said on “Good Morning America.” “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.”

Kerkhove made another statement Tuesday to clarify WHO’s report. She cited models that suggested nearly 40 percent of infections may be due to asymptomatic cases. 

Fauci said COVID-19 is “a very unusual infection” and the scientific community has yet to fully understand how it affects people. He even described the current coronavirus pandemic as his “worst nightmare.”

Reopening Efforts And COVID-19 Risks

All states in the U.S. have already announced plans to slowly reopen and allow residents to resume some daily activities. Health experts said despite the reduced restrictions, people should continue practicing social distancing and other safety measures since the threats of COVID-19 remainl. 

Fauci said the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. The confirmed cases are still rising, rapidly growing to more than 7 million in less than six months since the first outbreak in the U.S.

However, Fauci expressed confidence that the pharmaceutical industry will eventually find a way to end the pandemic. More than 120 potential COVID-19 vaccines are now being tested around the world, the Guardian reported Tuesday

The White House’s top infectious disease expert said he is “almost certain” that more than one would be successful.

Anthony Fauci Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Institutes of Health via flickr