We already knew that coughing and sneezing were the main causes of Covid-19 spread, hence the necessity to cough or sneeze in your elbow. But according to a pre-print study published in medRxiv on Monday July 20, 2020 by a team of scientists from the Nebraska University, airborne transmission of coronavirus is possible. A study that should yet be examined and certified by peer review of a scientific magazine.
What does this one say? That for the very first time, a team of scientists managed to replicate particles of SARS-CoV-2 sampled in the air Covid-19 sick's rooms. What does it mean? It means the virus could be airborne beyond sprays of spit, talking, coughing, or sneezing, through the air one exhales if one is contaminated. To come to such conclusions, searchers managed to sample the air in several patients' rooms at the hospital, 30 cm above their feet. Patients who were confined to bed that were coughing or talking.
They noticed the virus was found in micro-droplets under five microns diameter, and even under one micron. To ensure their discovery, they isolated the virus and tried to replicate it. Only one of the three samples succeeded out of the 18 swabs, showing that the virus is infectious since it is replicated in a cell culture. They only have to see know which quantity one has to breathe to be contaminated.
This study also corroborates an other experiment released this May 13th in the very serious American scientific magazine PNAS, talking can spread the virus.
According to this experiment, the micro-droplets of saliva produced when talking could stay in the air in a closed space for over ten minutes. “This direct visualization demonstrates how normal speech generates airborne droplets that can remain suspended for tens of minutes or longer and are eminently capable of transmitting disease in confined spaces” searchers say.
Another major point, the smaller these micro-droplets are, the longer they remain suspended in the air. On the contrary, the heavier they are, the quicker they fall on the ground, because of the gravity.
This recent study reminds how important barrier gestures and social distancing are, without forgetting facemasks. In France, protective masks are compulsory in public transportation and in some airlines such as Air France. Several major stores have decided to impose masks to their clients before coming in. Lastly, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wishes facemasks to be mandatory in the streets of Paris.
For the record, the World Health Organization said that Covid-19 may “never go away”. According to WHO emergencies expert Michael Ryan, Covid-19 may “become just another endemic virus in our communities”.