UK scientists to study how long can the coronavirus survive in the air

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on September 27, 2020 Published on September 27, 2020

Scientists at a high-security lab near Bristol in the United Kingdom will begin to study the length of time that the novel coronavirus can survive in air, the Guardian reported.

The study is meant to determine the length of time that the Covid-19 virus can remain infectious in aerosol particles. Researchers will be launching and levitating live Sars-CoV-2 between two electric rings to find out the length of time that the airborne virus remains infectious under varying environmental conditions, the Guardian reported.

With increasing concerns related to airborne transmission of the virus, the study may help in better understanding airborne transmission and frame guidelines accordingly.

Current guidelines

Last week, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had abruptly removed guidelines related to airborne transmission of the virus from its website shortly after posting them.

Responding to the removal of guidelines, CDC spokesperson, Jason McDonald had said, "A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency's official website,” as quoted by CNN.

The guidelines detailed how the virus can be transmitted through aerosols, acknowledging that the virus can remain suspended in the air, causing proliferation. It had also suggested preventive measures to be taken to destroy the virus in the air.

Prof Jonathan Reid at the University of Bristol, who is leading the new research said, “We know that when bacteria or viruses become airborne in respiratory droplets they very quickly dry down and can lose viability, so that’s an important step to understand when assessing the role of airborne transmission in Covid-19,” as quoted by the Guardian.

The World Health Organisation at a press briefing had said that it will maintain its current guidelines on airborne transmission. WHO in July had published an updated scientific brief on airborne transmission.

“Airborne transmission of the virus can occur in healthcare settings where specific medical procedures, called aerosol generating procedures, generate very small droplets called aerosols. Some outbreak reports related to indoor crowded spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission, combined with droplet transmission, for example, during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes,” WHO had said.

“In these events, short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out,” it had said.

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Published on September 27, 2020
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