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BIG CLAIM: Coronavirus is airborne and infects those nearby, evidence confirm; scientists urge WHO to act

Coronavirus is an airborne disease several scientists have claimed and requested the World Health Organisation to revise its guidelines based on the theory that coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets that come following coughing and sneezing of an infected person.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: July 06, 2020 15:00 IST
People wearing face masks and keeping social distance to
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People wearing face masks and keeping social distance to protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk in busy street, in Ankara, Turkey.

Coronavirus is an airborne disease several scientists have claimed and requested the World Health Organisation to revise its guidelines based on the theory that coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets that come following coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Scientists have now found enough evidence that it is also transmitted by tiny aerosols and WHO was wrong in its distinction of large droplets and aerosols.

"The coronavirus is finding new victims worldwide, in bars and restaurants, offices, markets and casinos, giving rise to frightening clusters of infection that increasingly confirm what many scientists have been saying for months: The virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby," NYT report said in what is being held as a BIG Claim by 239 experts and scientists. 

Scientists have now called the World Health Organisation (WHO) to revise its guidelines, advisories in relation to the contiguous infection.

According to a New York Times report, a number of scientists have said that there is evidence that people could be infected with the noval coronavirus through smaller particles in the air, calling the world health body to review its advisories regarding the infectious disease.

The NYT also quoted Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead of infection prevention and control, saying the evidence for the virus spreading through air was unconvincing.

"Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence," Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi said.

Coronavirus is airborne: Here's what scientists claim

India Tv - Coronavirus airborne, scientis claim, evidence, WHO, Japan, Tokyo

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People walk on a pedestrian crossing in Tokyo. Cities are slowly re-opening even though coronavirus cases continue to surface.

  • In April this year, a group of 36 experts who does research on air quality and aerosols, urged the WHO to consider and review the growing evidence on airborne spread of coronavirus.
  • The WHO responded promptly and asked Lidia Morawska, the leader of the group of experts and a longtime WHO consultant, to arrange a meeting.
  • In the meeting, Dr. Morawska and other experts mentioned incidents that indicated airborne transmission of the coronavirus especially at places that have poor ventilation and were crowded.
  • However, experts said WHO was making an artificial distinction between tiny aerosols and larger droplets, even though infected people produce both.
  • Scientists say droplets carrying the virus that travels in the air after a sneeze, or even smaller droplets that are exhaled out and can travel across the length of a room, can infect people when they inhale it.

"We've known since 1946 that coughing and talking generate aerosols," said Linsey Marr, an expert in airborne transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech.

India Tv - Coronavirus, Coronavirus airborne, COVID19 Pandemic

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Parade goers are reflected in a storefront window posting a sign for customers to wear face masks before a Fourth of July parade begins Saturday, July 4 in Bristol.

Is coronavirus airborne? Here's what WHO has maintained

India Tv - Coronavirus airborne, scientis claim, evidence, WHO

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Scientists have urged WHO to review its guidance on coronavirus transmission.

Meanwhile in its latest update on the virus, WHO on June 29 said that airborne spread of the infectious disease is possible only after medical procedures that produce aerosols, droplets smaller than 5 microns.

Experts, scientists on WHO's guidance on coronavirus 

Several scientists who also include WHO consultants, committee members hint that the organization, though having a good intention, is out of sync with science.

Experts have also hinted that the WHO has to manage tricky political relationships due to the health body's growing portfolio and a shrinking budget.

WHO's infection prevention and control committee that is bound by a rigid, overly medicalized view of scientific evidence, lacks behind in updating its advisories, guidance, experts have noted. 

What WHO's advisory on coronavirus spread says

India Tv - Coronavirus airborne, scientis claim, evidence, WHO

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A mural featuring the stylized eyes of the late President Hugo Chavez decorates a flight of stairs, as people wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, travel on motorbikes in Caracas, Venezuela.

The WHO advisory on coronavirus says that it spreads through one infected person to another through droplets from nose or mouth which may come out when a person sneezes, coughs or speaks. The world health body has so far not said that it is an airborne disease.

The majority of transmission that we know about is that people who have symptoms transmit the virus to other people through infectious droplets.

The WHO has not yet responded to the NYT report about scientists' big claim. We will be following the updates on this story and WHO's response. Stay tuned.

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