New evidence suggests that the airborne transmission of coronavirus is possible. According to the World Health Organization, there is emerging evidence that the virus can be transmitted by small particles suspended in the air.

For months, the WHO has refused to acknowledge that the coronavirus could be spread through suspended tiny particles in the air. The organization has insisted that COVID-19 spreads only through droplets emitted when people cough or sneeze. Since these droplets do not linger in the air but fall onto surfaces, the WHO has recommended frequent hand washing as a key preventive measure for the disease.

However, more than 200 scientists from 32 countries recently wrote to WHO saying there is strong evidence to show that the coronavirus also spreads in the air, through much smaller particles that linger around for hours after infected people talk, cough, sneeze, or breathe out. In an open letter sent to the WHO, 239 scientists said the airborne transmission of the coronavirus could not be ruled out.

“We wanted them to acknowledge the evidence,” said Jose Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado. “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,” he added.

Another signatory, Professor Benjamin Cowling of Hong Kong University, claimed WHO officials did not want to acknowledge the aerosol transmission of COVID-19 because that would require stricter measures to prevent “larger, super spreading events” and larger outbreaks.  

“In healthcare settings, if aerosol transmission poses a risk then we understand healthcare workers should really be wearing the best possible preventive equipment,” said Cowling. “And actually, the World Health Organization said that one of the reasons they were not keen to talk about aerosol transmission of COVID-19 is because there’s not sufficient number of these kinds of specialized masks for many parts of the world,” he added.

Today, the WHO has finally acknowledged that in certain settings, an airborne transmission of the coronavirus could be possible. A WHO official has announced today that the coronavirus can also spread in the air, especially in crowded, closed, or poorly ventilated settings. However, the WHO has cautioned that the evidence of aerosol transmission is only preliminary and would require further assessment. 

Coronavirus Protection Woman in protective gears to prevent coronavirus infection. Photo by: Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay