Looking For A COVID-19-Free EnvironmentBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 09/30/2020 - 13:54
While early studies on COVID-19 suggested that the virus was not airborne, as the pandemic spread later studies led scientists to urge WHO to recognize the potential for airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. As results remain unconclusive, some specialists are encouraging efficient ventilation of public places to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Early warnings of COVID-19 transmission explained that the small respiratory droplets produced when people cough, sneeze or breathe could cause person-to-person contagion. According to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, an international group that works to promote access to vaccination, these droplets often travel a few feet and land on surfaces, where the virus could last for up to three days. Many airborne diseases spread through aerosols can spread much further. Sneezing or coughing can generate an aerosol that stays in the air. According to a study published in the BMJ, one of the oldest medical journals, it was arbitrary to assume that aerosol represented a lower risk factor in the transmission of COVID-19. “It is wrong to assume that droplets land only on exposed mucosal surfaces such as the eyes and mouth. Particles up to 50 µm can be captured by inspiratory airflows and are deposited along the much more extensive surface area of the respiratory tract. Particles below 10 µm can penetrate as far as alveoli.”
About 200 scientists signed a letter to WHO urging it to address the airborne potential of COVID-19 transmission, something that should be combated through effective ventilation in public places, work spaces, schools and hospitals. These scientists concluded that, even though there is still not conclusive evidence on airborne transmission of COVID-19, there is enough data to act toward preventing further spreading or major outbreaks amid the new normal. Moreover, a recent study published in the medRxiv depository suggested that COVID-19 could remain in the air up to three hours after aerosolization. Surfaces like plastic and stainless steel can further preserve the virus for up to three days and cooper and cardboard for up to 24 hours.
Considering the potential for transmission, some companies are building purifying ventilators. SHREIS, for example, developed a device to avoid COVID-19 transmission through air and surfaces, called Scalene Hypercharge Corona Canon. The Mexican company Analitek shared with MBN its biosafety environmental testing development, which analyses the air, surfaces, facemask, drains or any contagion point. According to Director Andres Ferrara, this device “intends to detect COVID-19 when it is not yet active in a person or before the person develops any symptoms.”