Episode 76: The Symptom Trap

Rukmini S
1 min readJun 19, 2020

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Every night on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this one — should we worry more or less about asymptomatic transmission?

The WHO technical lead’s statement caused a huge controversy among epidemiologists. I’ve linked to some of their tweets, and the sum of their objections were these: there definitely are studies that show that up to 20% and in some cases even up to 40% of infected people are asymptomatic and can transmit the virus.

The nature of this disease and its newness will mean that there is a lot that we cannot currently quantify about its spread, and I get that that’s what the WHO representative was trying to say. In terms of messaging, erring on the side of caution, as Mr. Moudgil is doing, is probably the best strategy for now.

Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. Tomorrow — a new question.