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COVID is Airborne

A growing collection of evidence and resources discussing the airborne nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, its impacts, and mitigation strategies.

Here are the simple facts:

A. The SARS-CoV-2 virus travels in air.  This is true for many/most respiratory viruses. (reference)

B. Infectious virus exists in small sized aerosol particles which can remain suspended and infectious in poorly ventilated spaces for hours.

C. Infection occurs by inhalation.

There are hundreds of publications supporting airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, providing more evidence for this virus being airborne than any other respiratory virus. A number of studies have also shown it remains viable in the air.

The PPE that work for aerosols also work for droplets. The reverse is not true. In the midst of a seemingly endless 3+ year pandemic, it is critical to take the precautionary route to protect everyone.

The world needs and deserves a simple clear message. The SARS-CoV-2 virus travels in air and one can get infected by inhaling it. This is the dominant transmission pathway and the reason respirators/masks, filtration, and ventilation are so critical for protecting everyone.

Kimberly A. Prather, Ph.D.
Director, NSF Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment
Distinguished Professor
Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry
Scripps Institution of Oceanography University of California, San Diego

Droplet vs Aerosols demonstration

source: abc730

“If you have an enclosed space with really poor airflow, those aerosols are going to fill up that room.”

Airborne particles stay floating in an unventilated room

Coronavirus: New Facts about Infection Mechanisms – NHK Documentary
Apr 3, 2020

A simulation of a cough sending tiny particles into an unventilated room, where they hover in the air for 20 minutes.
We know that breathing generates these particles as well.

The White House: Let’s Clear The Air On COVID

“The most common way COVID-19 is transmitted from one person to another is through tiny airborne particles of the virus hanging in indoor air for minutes or hours after an infected person has been there. While there are various strategies for avoiding breathing that air – from remote work to masking – we can and should talk more about how to make indoor environments safer by filtering or cleaning air.

In fact, research shows changing the air in a room multiple times an hour with filtered or clean outdoor air – using a window fan, by using higher MERV filters in an Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, using portable air cleaning devices, and even just opening a window – can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission – with studies showing five air changes an hour reduce transmission risk by 50 percent. 1,2 And, improving indoor air has benefits beyond COVID-19: it will reduce the risk of getting the flu, a common cold, or other diseases spread by air, and lead to better overall health outcomes.”


White House WHOSTP statement Let’s Clear The Air On COVID
White House office of science and technology policy – “Let’s Clear The Air on COVID” Mar 23, 2022

Evidence Supporting Airborne Transmission

@JenniferKShea @jljcolorado @jmcrookston summarized the literature supporting airborne transmission of COVID-19 & several other respiratory pathogens. Sources included.
(source tweet)

(screenshot 10-17-21)

See for research-level science and technical articles.

Screenshot 10-17-21

Forbes: Let’s Admit That Covid-19 Is Airborne — How Can You Protect Yourself?—how-can-you-protect-yourself/?sh=2369e1d9306f

The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill
“All pandemic long, scientists brawled over how the virus spreads. Droplets! No, aerosols! At the heart of the fight was a teensy error with huge consequences.”

Covid Is Airborne, Scientists Say. Now Authorities Think So, Too

What do we know about airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2?
A Q&A explaining some technical points about airborne transmission of Covid-19

CDC’s ‘huge mistake’: did misguided mask advice drive up Covid death toll for health workers?
A critical read for healthcare workers regarding mask safety against the airborne virus

The virus is an airborne threat, the C.D.C. acknowledges.

@VicLeungIDdoc on CBC (source)