A report recently published in The Lancet has stated that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is an airborne pathogen. The report has gone against the predominant scientific view which says that coronavirus spreads through smaller aerosols that remain suspended in the air or through fomites. The authors of the report have given 10 reasons which back their claim that "SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted primarily by the airborne route".
The paper was written by six experts from the US, the UK and Canada. The authors argue that there are "insufficient grounds for concluding that a pathogen is not airborne" while "the totality of scientific evidence indicates otherwise". The authors of the paper have called for immediate modification of established COVID-19 safety protocols.
Here are the ten reasons cited for why "SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted primarily by the airborne route":
- The reports stated, "Superspreading events account for substantial SARS-CoV-2 transmission; indeed, such events may be the pandemic's primary drivers". According to the authors, detailed analysis of human behaviours and interactions, room sizes, other variables are consistent with the airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2. The report states that the same cannot be fully explained by droplets or fomites.
- "Long-range transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between people in adjacent rooms but never in each other's presence has been documented in quarantine hotels," the paper said.
- The authors of the study have argued that 33 per cent to 59 per cent of all coronavirus cases can be attributed to the asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission without the infected person coughing or sneezing.
- The authors wrote that the transmission of the pathogen is higher indoors compared to outdoors. Transmission is substantially reduced by indoor ventilation, according to the authors.
- The report reads that nosocomial infections (those that originate in a hospital) have been detected even in places where healthcare professionals wore PPE to protect themselves against the virus transmission through droplets.
- The authors state that viable SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in the air. During laboratory experiments, the pathogen stayed infectious in the air for up to three hours.
- The experts argued that the pathogen has been detected in air filters and buildings ducts in hospitals with COVID-19 patients in them. "Such locations could be reached only by aerosols," they said.
- The authors cited studies conducted on infected caged animals that showed SARS-CoV-2 being transmitted via an air duct.
- The experts stated that there is no study to their knowledge that provides strong or consistent evidence that disproves their hypothesis.
- The authors' final argument was that there was limited evidence that supports other dominant routes of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
The report's claims if proven and accepted by the broad scientific community could have massive implications on how people fight COVID-19.
(Edited by Mohammad Haaris Beg)