On Monday, June 8, an official at the World Health Organization (WHO) made a surprising statement. People who have Covid-19 but are asymptomatic—meaning they never develop symptoms like fever, coughing, or gastrointestinal distress—very rarely gave it to others, stated Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on the Covid-19 pandemic, at a regularly-scheduled press briefing.
The very next day, the organization took it back. Some might have taken WHO’s original statement to mean that “stealth transmission” of Covid-19 is unlikely—that if a person isn’t actively coughing and sneezing, you don’t need to worry about getting infected. But that’s not necessarily the case. On June 9, WHO clarified that while most transmission seems to come from people showing symptoms, it’s too soon to know exactly how the virus spreads.
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