Medical Doctors and Spin Doctors

Maria van Kerkhove

by Kerry Dougherty

Someone find me a lawyer. I think I have whiplash.

Not sure you can sue the World Health Organization, though, for acting more like political spin doctors than medical ones.

Perhaps you heard. On Monday, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist and head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit and the technical lead of the Covid-19 response team, spoke at the United Nation’s Headquarters in Geneva where she shocked the world by saying in no uncertain terms that asymptomatic people were not fueling the spread of the coronavirus.

“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” said Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters. “It’s very rare.”

Not just rare. Very rare.

Which means that the specter of countless Typhoid Marys roaming the world – unmasked – infecting others with Covid-19 and killing countless grandmas was, well, the stuff of fiction.

Remind me again, why are healthy people being ordered to wear masks? Oh yeah, that’s right, to prevent the spread of the disease by asymptomatic carriers.

Sigh.

When you combine Kerkhove’s revelation with the May 21 announcement from the Centers for Disease Control that the virus doesn’t survive long on surfaces – which reversed earlier statements suggesting the virus could live for days on stainless steel and plastic – many of us ordinary schlumps began to wonder why Virginia’s governor and others issued stay-at-home orders for healthy people, shut down businesses, closed schools and forced the American economy into a manmade recession.

Could it all have been a massive over-reaction based on non-scientific hysteria?

Common sense would say if only those with symptoms spread the disease and if it doesn’t survive long on surfaces, why don’t sick people just stay home and everyone else resume life?

Of course, when officials at the WHO realized that Van Kerkhove had accidentally spoken the truth and had singlehandedly destroyed much of the we’re-all-going-to-die narrative, there were panicked attempts to walk back her statement.

Not easy to do, considering that Dr. Van Kerkhove had been clear about what she was saying and she’s rather knowledgeable about this pandemic. After all, she’s the WHO’s technical lead for the Covid-19 response team and her credentials are impressive: Undergraduate degree from Cornell, medical degree from Stanford and a PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Still, she did her best to try to, er, clarify what she said one day earlier, according to CNN. Unfortunately, she had to resort to gibberish:

“What I was referring to yesterday in the press conference were very few studies — some two or three studies that had been published that actually try to follow asymptomatic cases, so people who are infected, over time, and then look at all of their contacts and see how many additional people were infected,” Van Kerkhove said.

“And that’s a very small subset of studies. So I was responding to a question at the press conference. I wasn’t stating a policy of WHO or anything like that,” she said. “Because this is a major unknown, because there are so many unknowns around this, some modeling groups have tried to estimate what is the proportion of asymptomatic people that may transmit.”

Frankly, scientists don’t pretend that they didn’t mean what they clearly said. Politicians do that.

Looks like the president was right to pull out of this “health” organization that has done more to confuse and frighten the public about the dangers of the coronavirus than enlighten it.

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14 responses to “Medical Doctors and Spin Doctors

  1. Van Kerhove was using the term “asymptomatic” to mean infected people who never display symptoms and referring to particular studies on such asymptomatic cases. In contrast, “presymptomatic” refers to the period before symptoms appear in infected people who do develop symptoms.

    • She doesn’t use the word “presymptomatic” in any way in any quote in that CNN article, and it would have been trivial for her to clarify that difference of words. How much can we swallow without gagging?

  2. Didn’t listen to the whole presentation before shampooing with Ronsonol.

  3. Hmmm… does this mean that now Trump will “undo” the “unfunding”?

    yep – this is all about semantics… and those who would prefer to misunderstand… and misinform are loving it.

    • No, she spoke truth and the Orwellians beat her into line. But people remain very wary. I took my first trip back in the local Y, got my first very brief cardio workout and it was nearly deserted, except for the organized classes with bikes ten feet apart….

      Trump’s explosion on the WHO was classic political CYA, trying to shift blame away from his administration, and WHO did accept too much BS from the Chinese for too long. What the WHO does is too important in this interconnected global economy and after the posturing, I’m sure the U.S. will be back in. Another reference to that new book on Ebola, but I truly believe this is just a dress rehearsal for a far more deadly pandemic to come. We are being warned, if we listen. Keep the leftover masks.

  4. What she said was asymptomatic is no symptoms; no sneezing, no coughing, no expelling snot at hurricane velocity.

    She also said many of those who are “said to be asymptomatic” really aren’t. They do have mild symptoms.

    And she said there were very few studies and tracking of the truly asymptomatic.

    Based on that last statement on lack of studies, she should NOT have made the conclusion that it is rare any more than should someone (Fauci) say it is prevalent.

    It’s as my hero once said, “an unknown known”.

  5. So far, I’ve seen two quotes. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have the actual quotes about the “very few studies” and “tracking of the truly asymptomatic” and those who are “said to be symptomatic” really aren’t. Apparently she said a lot more than what’s been quoted so far. Did she really mention “presymptomatic”? Some here say not.

    • You can find the other quotes with your friend Google.. I think there is a full transcript.

      But there are two things in motion here:

      1. – semantics… which ought not be political but have become because of what some of us prefer to believe

      2. – the simple fact that the science of COVID-19 is in flux – there is still not strong consensus across the board .. there is on some but still not on other.

      The reality though is this: Look at all the states – and ask yourself since half or more lean Conservative, why, if there actually is some significant doubt on the science – why those states STILL have significant restrictions in place. Why not just dump them and claim the science is not conclusive and move on? Sure, we can say the Dem states are timid or wimpy or even nefarious… pick your narrative but what is the GOP-led states excuses?

      • “The reality though is this: Look at all the states – and ask yourself since half or more lean Conservative, why, if there actually is some significant doubt on the science – why those states STILL have significant restrictions in place.”

        What “science” are you referring to and what is being doubted?

        Also, what is your obsession with political parties? You seemed to believe they are different, I can assure you they aren’t.

    • This is actually a good explanation. Some of this is about semantics and definitions upon which the scientists themselves don’t use the same way.

      I think many of us, prior to this, maybe did not know all these distinctions.

    • It’s still muddled, you are either symptomatic or or asymptomatic. Given our current situation, unless someone is displaying symptoms they generally aren’t tested. Therefore one cannot trace their activities to see if they indeed spread the disease.

      The problem seems to be that they are trying to make asymptomatic and the incubation period the same, they are are not. Someone that is truly asymptomatic will have acquired the disease and displayed no symptoms for the duration of the infection until they produce anti-bodies.

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