“We are 100 percent sure about this,” said Prof. Lidia Morawska, co-author of the letter.
By Josh Plank, World Israel News
A group of 239 scientists from 32 countries have signed a letter asking the World Health Organization (WHO) to revise its coronavirus recommendations to include airborne transmission as a significant factor in the spread of the disease, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
“We are 100 percent sure about this,” said Prof. Lidia Morawska of the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. She co-authored the letter with Prof. Donald Milton of the University of Maryland.
According to WHO, “The disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are relatively heavy, do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground.”
The WHO says that people within one meter of an infected person can catch coronavirus by breathing in these droplets. The droplets can also land on surfaces where a person could become infected by touching them and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.
The authors of the letter say that the WHO is ignoring another significant mode of transmission. They say that in addition to large respiratory droplets, coronavirus is also spread by aerosols, microscopic particles that can hang in the air for long periods and float dozens of feet.
If airborne transmission is indeed a significant factor, much more stringent measures may be recommended to contain the disease. N95 masks may be needed indoors, even if people are socially distancing, in addition to improved air ventilation systems and ultraviolet lights to kill floating viral particles.
Prof. Benedetta Allegranzi, a top WHO expert on infection prevention and control, told the LA Times, “We value and respect their opinions and contributions to this debate.”
She said that in weekly teleconferences, a large majority of a group of more than 30 international experts advising the WHO has “not judged the existing evidence sufficiently convincing to consider airborne transmission as having an important role in COVID-19 spread.”
Allegranzi said that airborne transmission “would have resulted in many more cases and even more rapid spread of the virus.”