Can COVID-19 Spread in the Air? The study finds “strong evidence” that SARS-CoV-2 is predominantly in flight

New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In what could sound the alarm among health authorities amid the alarming spike in coronavirus cases in India, a new study published in The Lancet has found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 , “spreads mainly in the air.”.

The study – conducted by experts from the UK, US and Canada – found that the COVID-19 virus is “predominantly airborne” and current health measures have left people “unprotected”.

Experts said there is “overwhelming” evidence that COVID-19 spreads through the air, asking the World Health Organization (WHO) to “adapt their description of the transmission to scientific evidence so that the attention of the mitigation is placed on the reduction of air transmission. “.

Notably, more than 200 scientists wrote to WHO in July last year stating that COVID-19 is airborne and even smaller particles can infect people.

Meanwhile, the Lancet study has identified 10 lines of evidence supporting COVID-19 is in flight. Highlighting last year’s Skagit Choir outbreak in the United States, the researchers said studies have confirmed that these events cannot be adequately explained by close contact or touching shared surfaces or objects.

They noted that SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates are much higher indoors than outdoors, and transmission is greatly reduced by internal ventilation.

The team cited previous studies that estimated that silent transmission – asymptomatic or presymptomatic – of SARS-CoV-2 from people who do not cough or sneeze accounts for at least 40 percent of all transmissions.

This silent transmission is a key way COVID-19 has spread around the world, “supporting a predominantly airborne mode of transmission,” according to the assessment.

The researchers also highlighted work demonstrating long-range transmission of the virus between people in adjacent hotel rooms, who were never in the presence of each other.

In contrast, the team found little or no evidence that the virus spreads easily via large droplets, which quickly fall into the air and contaminate surfaces.

“We were able to identify and interpret highly complex and specialized documents on fluid flow dynamics and live virus isolation,” said study lead author Trish Greenhalgh.

“While some individual documents have been rated as weak, overall the evidence base for airborne transmission is large and robust,” Greenhalgh added.

He noted that there should be no further delays in implementing measures around the world to protect against such transmission.

The assessment has serious implications for public health measures designed to mitigate the pandemic, the researchers said.

They said “droplet measurements” such as hand washing and surface cleaning, while important, should receive less emphasis than aerial measurements, which involve inhaling airborne infectious particles.

According to the researchers, if an infectious virus is primarily airborne, someone can potentially become infected when they inhale the aerosols produced when an infected person exhales, talks, screams, sneezes or sneezes.

They noted that some air control measures include ventilation, air filtration, reduction of crowding, and the number of time people spend inside.

Wearing masks whenever indoors, attention to the quality and fit of the mask, and higher-grade PPE for healthcare and other personnel when working in contact with potentially infectious people are some of the other control measures, according to the researchers. .

“It is quite surprising that some are still wondering whether airborne transmission is the predominant route of transmission for this virus or not,” said study co-author Professor Kimberly Prather, of the University of California at San Diego. in the United States.

“Only by including the inhalation of both short and long-range aerosols can we explain the numerous indoor epidemics that have occurred around the world. Once we recognize that this virus is in flight, we know how to fix it,” Prather said.

The researchers added that there are many examples of places that have fared much better recognizing that this virus is airborne from the start, adding that the world must follow their lead as soon as possible.

(With PTI inputs)

Published by:
Aalok Sensharma