According to an open letter, published on Monday and signed by 239 scientists, it accuses the World Health Organization (WHO) of underestimating the chances of airborne transmission of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Following the publication, the WHO has come out, saying that there’s “emerging evidence” that the deadly COVID-19 virus can spread in the air.
WHO Acknowledges “Emerging Evidence” That COVID-19 Can Spread In The Air
According to reports, the WHO has confirmed that there’s emerging evidence that the deadly COVID-19 virus can spread in the air. All thanks to the 239 scientists across the world, who published an open letter urging the agency to be more forthcoming about coronavirus being an airborne disease.
According to Jose Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado and one of the scientists, they didn’t attack the WHO. Instead, they only wanted the agency to acknowledge the evidence that the COVID-19 virus can spread in the air.
Here’s what he said while discussing with the Reuters news agency:
“We wanted them to acknowledge the evidence. This is definitely not an attack on the WHO. It’s a scientific debate. We chose to go public because the agency didn’t want to hear the evidence after many conversations with them”
According to the WHO Technical Lead for Infection Prevention and Control Dr. Benedetta Alleganzi, she said the agency has discussed and partnered with most of the scientists.
Here’s a brief of what Alleganzi said during a briefing:
“We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field, as in all other fields regarding the Covid-19 virus and pandemic and therefore we believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission and also regarding the precautions that need to be taken, “
While further discussing the issue, Alleganzi mentioned that the WHO still needs to perform more research regarding COVID-19. Here’s what she said below:
“The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings, especially in very specific conditions crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described cannot be ruled out,” she said. “However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted.”
Coronavirus Is Airborne, What Does That Mean?
Before going into details, let’s have a quick look at what airborne transmission is all about:
An airborne disease is any pathogen disease, that can spread in the air, by the help of small particles over time and distance. According to the 239 scientists, the virus can be transmitted in the air by smaller particles, called aerosols.
Initially, WHO was able to confirm in a scientific brief, that the main method of transmission of the deadly virus is through droplets spread through close contact with an infected person. Also, it added that the virus can transmit through contact with surfaces that an infected patient has come in contact with.
However, with the new discovery by the 239 scientists, the WHO has confirmed that it’ll carry out a further evaluation on the matter. If further analysis confirms that coronavirus can spread in the air, there might be a change in the advice on how to prevent the spread of the virus. Apart from that, there could also be more widespread use of masks and more extremely thorough and careful distancing, especially in social gatherings.
How Contagious Will The Airborne Coronavirus Be?
For now, it’s still unclear the extent to which the Coronavirus can spread in the air by the aerosols.
According to Stephanie Dancer, a consultant medical microbiologist in the UK, she said the new virus can survive both droplets and aerosol for 3 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity of the area. She further explained that the microscopic aerosols can project at a minimum of six meters in indoor environments.
Here’s a brief of what Dancer said below:
“Microscopic aerosols can project at least six meters in indoor environments. And possibly even further if dynamic air currents are operating. The distance depends upon how large the aerosol is.”
Furthermore, Dancer said, while discussing with Al Jazeera that:
“There is a lower risk of catching the virus the farther you are from the source.“