Science

Stuffy nose, full set of teeth could make people Covid-19 superspreaders: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 22, 2020 Published on November 22, 2020

Researchers identified the biological features that could make a person Covid-19 super-spreader.

The researchers employed computer-generated models and simulated sneezes in different types of people.

The study, published in the journal Physics of Fluids, determined associations between people’s physiological features and how far their sneeze droplets travel and linger in the air.

Findings

According to the authors of the study, people’s features, like a stopped-up nose, or a full set of teeth, could amplify their potential to spread viruses.

“This is the first study that aims to understand the underlying ‘why’ of how far sneezes travel,” said study co-author Michael Kinzel from UCF.

“We show that the human body has influencers, such as a complex duct system associated with the nasal flow that actually disrupts the jet from your mouth and prevents it from dispersing droplets far distances,” he added.

The researchers stated that when people with a clear nose blow it into a tissue, the speed and distance sneeze droplets travel decrease.

This is because a clear nose provides a path in addition to the mouth for the sneeze to exit, they added.

“Teeth create a narrowing effect in the jet that makes it stronger and more turbulent,” Kinzel said.

“They actually appear to drive transmission. So, if you see someone without teeth, you can actually expect a weaker jet from the sneeze from them,” he added.

For the study, the researchers recreated four mouth and nose types — a person with teeth and a clear nose, a person with no teeth and a clear nose, a person with no teeth and a congested nose, and a person with teeth and a congested nose.

When they simulated sneezes in the different models, they found that the spray distance of droplets expelled when a person has a congested nose and a full set of teeth is about 60 per cent greater than when they do not.

The researchers also simulated three types of saliva — thin, medium, and thick.

They found that thinner saliva resulted in sneezes composed of smaller droplets, which created a spray and stayed in the air longer than medium and thick saliva.

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Published on November 22, 2020
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