Scientists Warn WHO: COVID-19 Is Airborne, We Must Respond Accordingly
In a letter to the World Health Organization, over 200 scientists call for the COVID-19 response to be updated with the understanding that the virus is airborne. This would require a change in how we respond to the pandemic, necessitating extra efforts to minimize the spread and protect the most vulnerable. These scientists fear the WHO is downplaying the possibility of airborne spread, and they say the organization isn’t acting in accordance with the best science available.
The New York Times reported Saturday that 239 scientists had signed onto a joint letter to the WHO, outlining evidence for airborne contagion. They say that if they’re right, people need to wear masks even when socially distant, and that schools, businesses, nursing homes, and other facilities may need to update their ventilation systems, with stronger filters and less recirculation of air.
Concerned scientists said that the WHO is setting too stringent a standard of evidence, during a fast-moving pandemic, and needs to move forward with prevention techniques. One consultant who preferred to remain anonymous described the organization: “They’ll die defending their view.”
A paper published in Environment International, accessible at Science Direct, lays out some of the necessary tools to prevent the spread of the airborne disease. Public buildings should ventilate well, not recirculate air, and use stronger filters that trap smaller particles. Systems to kill the airborne virus, such as UV lights, and air-cleaning systems are also suggested as a possibility.
Then, there are the recommendations that have been in place. The experts say we should continue to minimise the number of people in a building at once, and wear masks, even when able to socially distance.
Currently the CDC data is still showing tens of thousands of new cases in the U.S. per day, with well over 100k deaths, including hundreds of health care workers.