There's Now Proof These Two Things You Do Constantly Spread COVID
A new study says airborne coronavirus particles appear to be infectious.
The debate over how infectious coronavirus particles in the air can be has plagued scientists, doctors, and researchers for months. And while it's since been proven that the novel coronavirus can become suspended in tiny droplets sent flying into the air when those infected cough, sneeze, yell, or sing, it's been difficult to prove how infectious the droplets are. But a new study out of the University of Nebraska Medical Center proves for the first time that the simple acts of speaking and breathing can release microscopic infectious particles in the air.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was led by Joshua Santarpia, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He told the AFP his research team took air samples from five rooms of six bedridden COVID patients when they were talking and, in some cases, coughing, at about a foot over their beds.
They then tested the particles, which were smaller than five micrometers, and determined the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, the virus that causes COVID-19. That means when sick patients merely breathe and speak, they could be infecting those who inhale the same air they expelled. Santarpia and his team concluded that "aerosols containing SARS-CoV-2 RNA exist in particle modes that are produced during respiration, vocalization, and coughing." They add that "the infectious nature of aerosol collected in this study further suggests that airborne transmission of COVID-19 is possible."
"Based on what we know about other diseases and what we know so far about SARS-CoV-2, I think we can assume that if the virus is 'infectious in aerosols,' then we can become infected by breathing them in," virus aerial transmission expert Linsey Marr, PhD, a professor at Virginia Tech, told AFP. (She was not involved with this particular University of Nebraska study.)
More alarming, as the AFP points out, is the fact that these microdroplets travel much greater distances than larger droplets due to their light weight and hang in the air longer as well. On July 16, Anthony Fauci, MD, did an interview with Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook Live, and explained the difference in these droplets.
"There are different types of droplets," Fauci said. "Most of the droplets, when people speak and you see that little spray come out, are greater than five micrometers. Those are the kind that, they're heavy enough, Mark, they don't go anymore than three feet, at the most six feet. Which is why we say, when you're outside, stay at least six feet apart form someone."
He continued: "There are other droplets that are less than five micrometers. Those are the ones that can 'aerosolize.' Aerosolize means, instead of coming out from out of your mouth and dropping within three to six feet, it can kind of float around the air and stay in the air for a period of time."
Watch the full interview below. And for more from Fauci, check out 13 Tips From Dr. Fauci on How You Can Avoid Coronavirus.