Coronavirus is airborne and we pay too much attention to surfaces

(ORDO NEWS) — A year has passed since the start of the pandemic and the evidence is clear. The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is transmitted primarily through the air – when talking, people exhale large droplets and small particles called aerosols. Capturing a virus from the surface seems plausible, but rarely happens in practice.

Despite this, many healthcare institutions still claim that surfaces are hazardous and must be disinfected frequently. As a result, we have conflicting messages in a situation where clear guidance is required on how to properly prioritize and prevent further spread of the virus.

Covid-19 rarely spreads through surfaces. So why are we still deep cleaning?

In its latest recommendations from October last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended: “Do not touch surfaces, especially in public places, because you may have been touched by someone with covid-19 before you. Clean surfaces regularly with standard disinfectants. ” However, in January a WHO spokesman told Nature magazine that there is limited evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted through contaminated surfaces (also known as fomites). But he added that fomites are still considered a possible mode of transmission, citing evidence that SARS-CoV-2 RNA was found “in close proximity to people infected with SARS-CoV-2.” And while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits on its website,

Lack of clarity about the risks associated with fomites – compared to the much greater risks associated with airborne transmission – has serious implications. People and organizations continue to prioritize costly disinfection, although they may have used those resources to highlight the importance of masks and explore measures to improve ventilation. The latter will be more difficult to do, but the consequences can be decisive.

The New York City Transportation Authority alone estimates that the annual disinfection costs associated with covid from now until 2023 will be about $ 380 million. Late last year, authorities approached the US federal government for advice on whether to focus solely on aerosols. He was told to pay particular attention to fomites, and the agency continues to spend more resources on cleaning surfaces than on aerosols.

Now that there is a consensus that the virus is airborne – in both large and small droplets – preventive work must focus on improving ventilation or installing well-tested air purifiers. You also need to remind people to wear masks and keep a safe distance. Agencies like WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should update their recommendations based on current knowledge. Research on the virus and covid-19 is rapidly advancing, so epidemiological services are required to provide citizens with clear and up-to-date information that will give people what they need to keep themselves and others safe.


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