For a long period of time, all we talked about was COVID-19, the infectious and deadly virus that infected close to 12 million people and killed over 500,000 people.
Scientists didn’t have much information about the virus and they were discovering new things about it almost every other day.
As we all got more accustomed to the virus happening, we started tuning out about it and saw it as something that we just had to live with.
However, under the urge of a group of scientists, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has just acknowledged that there is an increasing surge of evidence that shows that COVID-19 can be airborne spread.
Which is great because just a few days ago, they completely dismissed the idea.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO said during a news briefing, “We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19.”
Wait, I thought we already knew this?
Previously, it was believed by the WHO that the virus was primarily spread through small droplets that came out of the nose and mouth of an infected person, and that these small droplets sink to the ground very quickly.
Now, new research suggests otherwise.
239 scientists in 32 countries have outlined evidence that suggests floating virus particles can cause people who breathe them in to become infected.
This evidence was subsequently published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal in an open letter to the WHO.
Since there is a high chance that the smaller exhaled particles can remain in the air, the scientists are hoping that the WHO can quickly amend its guidance.
Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control explained during Tuesday’s briefing in Geneva that even those there was emerging evidence of airborne transmission, no conclusion has been made.
She said, “…The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings – especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out. However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this.”
So What Now?
Well, in case you don’t really think it’s that big of a deal for them to conclude that airborne transmission is possible, it is.
If there is a change in the WHO’s assessment of the risk of transmission, it will affect its current advice of keeping 1m apart from one another.
Furthermore, governments that rely on the WHO for their guidance policy will also have to revise their public health measures so as to ensure that the spread of the virus is curbed.
But don’t worry. According to Van Kerkhove, the WHO will soon publish a scientific brief summary of what they know so far about the modes of transmission of COVID-19.
She also said, “A comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission. This includes not only physical distancing, it includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain settings, specifically where you can’t do physical distancing and especially for healthcare workers.”
Well, until they reveal more information, let’s just all stay safe and hole up until 10 Jul where it’s polling day.