WHO reviewing report urging new guidance over airborne spread of coronavirus


A group of worldwide scientists who say there is evidence that the CCP virus can be spread through airborne transmission have called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to revise its recommendations on the virus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.

In a commentary that appeared in the Oxford Academic journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers wrote that studies have shown "beyond any reasonable doubt" that viruses can travel tens of meters in the air, and analyses of certain spreading events had demonstrated the same was true of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

In the open letter, the scientists outlined the evidence to the WHO.

"We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts", World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in an email reply on Monday to a Reuters request for comment.

In April, scientists and health experts on air quality and aerosols urged the WHO to recognize the evidence that airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus is a possibility. "We definitely want to do better", she said. Public health agencies, scientists, and media outlets have been vocal about the higher risk of infection that crowded indoor environments like bars pose for months now; avoiding those scenarios would be smart, regardless of whether the virus spreads via larger droplets or tiny aerosols.

Why do we need to understand the modes of transmission?

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The letter is only the latest example of the roiling tension between the World Health Organization and the wider scientific community.

Signed by 239 researchers from 32 countries, including experts in virology, aerosol physics, flow dynamics, exposure and epidemiology, medicine, and building engineering, the letter claims that added precautions should be taken to mitigate the threat of COVID-19. They said "there is every reason to expect" that the coronavirus behaves similarly.

They also cited a Washington state choir practise and unpublished research about a poorly ventilated restaurant in Guangzhou, China - each of which raised the possibility of infections from airborne droplets.

"We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field, as in all other fields regarding the COVID-19 virus and pandemic", Allegranzi said. "People may think they are fully protected by adhering to the current recommendations but in fact, additional airborne interventions are needed".

"I'm glad to see the W.H.O. and the Chinese Communist Party have both read my interim report on the origins of the pandemic and are finally admitting to the world the truth - the CCP never reported the virus outbreak to the WHO in violation of WHO regulations", McCaul told National Review on Thursday. "Health-care workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients". For example, if the novel coronavirus truly is viable in its aerosolized airborne form, it would mean that poorly ventilated spaces - including workplace environments, schools, restaurants, buses, trains, etc - could still be potentially unsafe, even if people stick to a 2-meter social distancing rule.

Given what we know, the dilemma is whether to employ the precautionary principle and assume the airborne route plays an important role in disease transmission - and adjust infection control measures accordingly.