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At a media briefing yesterday, the World Health Organization made a bold claim: That it is "very rare" for an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 to pass on the disease.

The remarks received pushback right away. Among the complaints: The WHO official did not differentiate between asymptomatic and presymptomatic carriers -- an important distinction, considering that some studies indicate people are most contagious a couple days before symptoms surface. Others believe that not enough studies have been performed for the WHO to make the statement, with at least one set of data contradicting the contention.

In follow-up remarks today, the official said the "very rare" comment was based on specific studies and that, depending on which mathematic modeling you subscribe to, between 16% and 41% of cases may be spread via asymptomatic carriers.

Does the WHO's clarification make this issue more or less confusing? One thing becomes clear: No conclusions can be drawn from its claim yesterday that asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers rarely transmit the disease. If you were considering a change in your company's policies such as those regarding social distancing and masks as a result of yesterday's widely spread statement, you may want to reconsider.

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