Mounting evidence suggests coronavirus is airborne — but health advice has not caught up


  • Seule quasi-certitude, si transmission par #aérosol il y a, elle joue un rôle beaucoup plus grand dans les espaces clos, surtout sans présence de lumière du jour.

    Mounting evidence suggests #coronavirus is airborne — but health advice has not caught up

    Outside the lab, it is much more of a challenge to detect #aerosols and show that they can transmit the virus. In one study, researchers in Wuhan, China, detected #SARS-CoV-2 RNA in aerosol samples collected in a hospital9. But the WHO and others have criticized studies such as this because they detect only viral RNA, not infectious virus. “All these researchers are struggling to find the viable virus” in clinical settings, says Allegranzi. “Whenever this is found, it will be really very relevant.”

    One of the problems researchers face in studying virus viability in aerosols is the way that samples are collected. Typical devices that suck in air samples damage a virus’s delicate lipid envelope , says Julian Tang, a virologist at the University of Leicester, UK. “The lipid envelope will shear, and then we try and culture those viruses and get very, very low recovery,” he says.

    A few studies, however, have successfully measured the viability of aerosol-borne virus particles. A team at the US Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate in Washington DC found that environmental conditions play a big part in how long virus particles in aerosols remain viable. SARS-CoV-2 in mock saliva aerosols lost 90% of its viability in 6 minutes of exposure to summer sunlight, compared with 125 minutes in darkness 10. This study suggests that indoor environments might be especially risky, because they lack ultraviolet light and because the virus can become more concentrated than it would in outdoor spaces.

    Researchers say that one big unknown remains: how many virus particles are needed to trigger an infection? That’s one reason that Allegranzi would like to see randomized trials that demonstrate that interventions aimed at controlling aerosols actually work. One example, she says, would be a trial showing that tight-fitting respirator masks offer better protection than looser-fitting medical masks in a health-care setting.

    Tang, who contributed to the commentary, says the bar of proof is too high regarding airborne transmission. “[The WHO] ask for proof to show it’s airborne, knowing that it’s very hard to get proof that it’s airborne,” he says. “In fact, the airborne-transmission evidence is so good now, it’s much better than contact or droplet evidence for which they’re saying wash [your] hands to everybody.”

    #covid_19 #transmission