Posted: Sunday, July 5, 2020. 6:55 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The New York Times is reporting that some 239 scientists are petitioning the World Health Organization (WHO) to update its classification of SARS-CoV-2 the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, to say that infection is also possible through airborne transmission.
Currently, the WHO’s classification of the virus says that its primary means of infection comes through droplets from a person either speaking, coughing, or sneezing in close proximity to someone else; however, the scientists believe that smaller traces of the virus within left floating in the air can also cause infection.
The NY Times reports that the scientists are preparing to send an open letter to the WHO in the coming week requesting that the classification be changed because it could have serious implications on the response to the virus going forward.
“If airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, especially in crowded spaces with poor ventilation, the consequences for containment will be significant. Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially-distant settings. Health care workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients,” the NY Times said.
However, the WHO said that the debate over airborne transmission has been ongoing for some time, but that it has not found a reason to change the classification. Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead on infection control, said the evidence for the virus spreading by air was unconvincing.
“Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence,” she said. “There is a strong debate on this.”
While the debate on transmission continues to rage on, countries the pandemic has affected over 11.4 million people globally, with experts fearing that the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region will be hit even harder in the coming months.
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