WHO admits evidence of airborne transmission

WHO admits evidence of airborne transmission
'Emerging evidence' of airborne transmission of coronavirus. Source: AP
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: The World Health Organization admitted that there is “emerging evidence” of airborne transmission of the coronavirus following the publication of a letter Monday signed by 239 scientists that urged the agency to be more forthcoming about the likelihood that people can catch the virus from droplets floating in the air.

During a briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Benedetta Alleganzi, WHO Technical Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, said that the agency has discussed and collaborated with many of the scientists who signed the letter.

Alleganzi said: “We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field, as in all other fields regarding the Covid-19 virus and pandemic and therefore we believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission and also regarding the precautions that need to be taken.”

With WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, infectious disease epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkove said many of the letter’s signatories are engineers, “which adds to growing knowledge about the importance of ventilation, which we feel is very important.”

She said they have been talking about the possibility of aerosol transmission and airborne transmission as one of the modes of transmission of Covid-19, as well as droplet.

”We’ve looked at fomites. We’ve looked at fecal oral. We’ve looked at mother to child. We’ve looked at animal to human, of course as well,” Van Kerkove said.

She said there are fields of research for it and it is really growing and for which there is some evidence emerging but is not definitive.

The WHO has so far said that the virus is transmitted through droplets when people sneeze or cough.

An official said of WHO said the airborne transmission could not be ruled out in closed, crowded or poorly ventilated settings.

Jose Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado who signed the paper, said she wanted WHO to acknowledge the evidence.

He said: “This is definitely not an attack on the WHO. It’s a scientific debate, but we felt we needed to go public because they were refusing to hear the evidence after many conversations with them.”

WHO officials did not rule out the new evidence but have cautioned and said it requires further assessment.

The WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, Benedetta Allegranzi, said that evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus in “crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out”.

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