Coronavirus Becomes 90% Less Infectious Within 20 Minutes of Being Airborne, Reveals UK Study

Coronavirus Becomes 90% Less Infectious Within 20 Minutes of Being Airborne, Reveals UK Study

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A groundbreaking new study that attempts to find how the deadly coronavirus survives in exhaled air has revealed that the virus becomes 90 per cent less infectious within 20 minutes of becoming airborne therefore losing most of its ability to infect after the first five minutes.

The findings of the study published by the University of Bristol’s Aerosol Research Centre are yet to be peer-reviewed and are the first of its kind to understand how exactly coronavirus travels in the air after it has been exhaled, The Guardian reported.

While conducting the study, the researchers developed an apparatus to generate virus-containing particles and allowed them to float between two electric rings for anywhere between five seconds and 20 minutes in a tightly controlled environment.

They found that when the viral particles leave the lungs, they quickly lose water and the lower levels of carbon dioxide in the environment result in a rapid increase in pH. This affects the virus’s ability to infect human cells, The Guardian reported. The rate of degradation is however dependent on the relative humidity of the surrounding air. If the air is less than 50 per cent humid, the virus loses half of its infectivity within five seconds and another 19 per cent loss over the next 5 minutes. At 90 percent humidity, the virus can lose 52per cent of its infectivity in the next 5 minutes.

The findings thus indicated that the temperature made little difference to viral infectivity, contradicting the belief that the disease spreads faster in hotter climates.

Meanwhile, the findings of the study also reaffirmed the importance of wearing face masks and maintaining social distance to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“People have been focused on poorly ventilated spaces and thinking about airborne transmission over meters or across a room. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but I think still the greatest risk of exposure is when you’re close to someone,” the study’s lead author Prof Jonathan Reid told The Guardian.

This revelation comes amid the suggestion of two health experts of Indian origin who say that allowing the rapid spread of Omicron, a seemingly milder variant of Covid, is a better and safer bet to end the ongoing pandemic.

“Policies designed to slow the spread of Omicron may end up creating a super variant that is more infectious, more virulent, and more resistant to vaccines… To minimize that risk, policymakers must tolerate the rapid spread of milder variants. This will require difficult trade-offs, but it will save lives in the long run,” the Indian-origin experts, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Apoorva Ramaswamy argued in a WSJ OpEd.

The argument by Ramaswamy and Ramaswamy in the WSJ OpEd pertaining to why it is better to let Omicron run free was based on the scientific distinction between antigenic drift and antigenic shift.

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