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New studies claim that the coronavirus evolves to be transmitted mostly through the air

Scientists analyze the small particles with viral load that can remain in suspension for hours. Experts highlight the importance of wearing a chinstrap indoors and of ventilating rooms frequently

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People infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 exhale infectious viruses on their breath (Getty)

After the intervention and worldwide outcry of 200 scientists who published an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 6 last year warning of the airborne transmission of COVID-19 through aerosols and urging the organization to recognize these risks, much progress has been made to characterize the coronavirus as primarily a respiratory virus.

Although it can remain several hours on a certain surface, it does not constitute a proven risk of contagion to touch it, unless afterward one puts the hand to the mouth, nose, or eyes.

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Several Scientific Studies Confirmed The Airborne Transmission Of Sars-Cov-2 That Causes The Covid-19 Disease (Nhi)

When a person talks, coughs, sneezes, laughs, or even breathes, they expel small respiratory droplets into the surrounding air called aerosols from their mouth and nose. The smallest of these droplets can float for hours in the air according to scientific evidence is responsible for the expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That is why we insist on doing outdoor activities and ventilation of the environments. And the health team that is exposed to the high concentration of aerosols, that they must use masks with high-efficiency filters,” the infectious disease doctor Pablo Bonvehí, head of the Infectology and Infection Control Section of the CEMIC.

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It Is Key To Periodically Ventilate The Rooms To Renew The Air (Getty)

A new study led by the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, in the United States, showed that people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 to exhale infectious viruses on their breath, and that people infected with the Alpha variant (the dominant strain circulating at the time this study was started)they put 43 to 100 times more viruses into the air than people infected with the original strains.

The researchers even found that loose-fitting fabrics and surgical masks reduced the amount of virus that entered the air around infected people by about half, as published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“Our latest study provides further proof of the importance of airborne transmission. We know that the Delta variant on the road now is even more contagious than the Alpha variant. Our research indicates that variants continue to improve as they travel through the air, so we need to provide better ventilation and wear tight-fitting masks, in addition to vaccination, to help stop the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Donald Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. (UMD SPH).

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Coronavirus Variants Improve As They Travel Through The Air

The amount of virus in the air from Alpha variant infections was 18 times more than could be explained by the higher amounts of virus in nasal swabs and saliva. One of the lead authors, Ph.D. student Jianyu Lai, pointed out that the virus in saliva and nasal swabs was already known to increase infections. “The virus from the nose and mouth could be spread by spraying large droplets near an infected person. But our study shows that the virus in exhaled aerosols increases even more”, he highlighted. These significant increases in airborne virus from Alpha infections occurred before the arrival of the Delta variant and indicate that the virus is evolving to better travel through the air.

“The coronavirus has a diameter of approximately 0.12 microns and is not floating in isolation in the air. They are immersed and are transported by these microdroplets/aerosols of varying size”, explained Dr. Martín Lombardero, a cardiologist and member of the Argentine Society of Cardiology“The multiple scientific examples (published and scientifically proven) of contagions in closed places, with artificial ventilation and air recirculation (super contagions), end up closing the potential idea that the aerosols that COVID 19 patients emanate in non-ventilated places are potentially infectious at distances much greater than the 2 meters classically described,” added the expert.

To see if masks or chinstraps work to prevent the virus from being transmitted between people, this study measured the amount of SARS-CoV-2 breathed in the air and checked the amount of virus they breathed out into the air people sick with COVID-19 after donning a cloth or surgical mask.

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The Coronavirus Has An Approximate Diameter Of 0.12 Microns And Is Housed In The Aerosols We Exhale (Nhi)

The masks significantly reduced the virus-laden particles in the air around the person with COVID-19 and lowered the amount by about 50%. But the loose cloth and surgical masks did not prevent the infectious virus from passing into the air. Dr. Jennifer German, one of the co-authors, pointed out that “the messages that can be taken home from this work are that the coronavirus can be in your exhaled breath, it is improving to be in your exhaled breath, and the use of a mask reduces the possibility that you breathe it in others”.

This means that A layered approach to control measures (including better ventilation, increased filtration, UV air sanitation, and tight-fitting masks, in addition to vaccination).

More studies supporting airborne transmission

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How Aerosols Fall To The Ground In Well Ventilated (Green), Regularly Ventilated (Yellow) And Poorly Ventilated (Red) Environments

More details about the spread of the virus through aerosols have been discovered in Austria, Italy, and the United States. The results can be used to better control the pandemic.

At the University of Vienna, Austria, they did experiments and simulations and found that tiny, invisible virus-laden particles disappear more slowly after exhalation than previous models suggested.

Previous models assumed that only large particles posed a significant risk of infection because small ones evaporated quickly. However, at the Technical University of Vienna, in collaboration with the University of Padua, in Italy, it has been shown that this is not true: due to the high humidity of the air we breathe, even small particles can remain in the air for much longer. time than was supposed to. The study has been published in the scientific journal PNAS of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

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The Virus Particles Stay Longer In The Air According To The Variants Studied (Getty)

We found that the small particles remain in the air an order of magnitude longer than previously thought,” said Dr. Alfredo Soldati, author of the study. “There is a simple reason for this: the rate of evaporation of the particles is not determined by the average relative humidity of the environment, but by the local humidity directly in the place where the drop is located,” he added.

Exhaled air is much more humid than ambient air, and this exhaled moisture causes small particles to evaporate more slowly. When the first particles evaporate, more humidity develops locally, which further slows down the evaporation process of other droplets.

“This means that small particles are infectious for longer than was supposed, but that should not be a cause for pessimism,” said Alfredo Soldati. “It just shows us that you have to study these phenomena correctly to understand them. Only then can we make scientifically sound recommendations, for example with regard to chinstraps or masks and safety distances”, concluded the specialist.

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Written by Christina d'souza

Proofreader, editor, journalist. I have been doing my favourite thing for more than six years.

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