Scientists Ask to Recognize Airborne Transmission of COVID-19

More than 200 scientists have called in an open letter to recognize "the potential for airborne transmission" of COVID-19 and to take preventive measures to mitigate this route of transmission of the coronavirus.

The request is made in an article entitled "Time to tackle COVID-19 airborne transmission", whose lead author is Lidia Morawska of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health at Queensland University of Technology (USA). The text, which has the support signature of 239 scientists, has been accepted for publication in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Until now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized as the main route of transmission of SARS-Cov-2 the droplets that a person expels when he speaks, coughs or sneezes and that reach another, hence the need to keep a safety distance of up to two meters.

Indoor or closed environments

However, studies by signatories and other scientists have shown "beyond a reasonable doubt" that viruses are released during exhalation, speech, and cough in droplets small enough to remain in the air and pose a risk. exposure to distances greater than one or two meters from an infected individual. "

This problem, they say, is "especially serious" in indoor or closed environments, particularly "those that are crowded and have inadequate ventilation" in relation to the number of occupants and prolonged periods of exposure.

"We call on the medical community and relevant international and national institutions to recognize the potential of COVID-19 air transmission," the signatories indicate and advocate the use of preventive measures.

Avoid overcrowding

Thus, they recommend measures such as providing sufficient and effective ventilation – supplying clean outside air or minimizing air recirculation – particularly in public buildings, workplaces, schools, hospitals and nursing homes, and "avoid overcrowding, particularly on public transportation and in public buildings."

"Easy" actions like opening doors and windows at the same time can dramatically increase the air flow rate in many buildings, "the letter states.

Although they acknowledge that "there is still no universal acceptance of SARS-CoV2 airborne transmission," they emphasize that "there is more than enough supporting evidence for the precautionary principle to apply."

Source: DW