Based on a scientific conclusion from a thorough research done by a group of scientists from CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad and the CSIR-IMTech, Chandigarh, in association with hospitals in Hyderabad and Mohali, it has been confirmed that the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is scientifically feasible and it needs to be taken care of.
This study has been published in the Journal of Aerosol Science. The mechanism of spread of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has been difficult to understand. It was predicted to have unfurled through surfaces; also, epidemiologists claim, that, the countries where people were regularly using masks during the pandemic, were less severely affected. However, quantitative evidences prove that the air had not been much infectious initially.
From severely and not so severely Covid-19 affected areas, Scientists collected air samples to analyze the coronavirus genome content. These areas included hospitals, closed rooms, which were occupied only by Covid-19 patients for flexible time periods, and houses of home-quarantined Covid-19 patients.
Scientists found that they were able to frequently discover virus in air around Covid-19 patients and the positivity rate eventually increased in the premises where more patients were present. They found the virus in ICU as well as in non-ICU sections of hospitals, suggesting that patients discharged the virus in the air irrespective of the seriousness of infection. The study also found viable coronavirus in the air that could spread over a long range of distance. Scientists still recommend wearing face masks to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
Dr Shivranjani Moharir, a scientist involved in the study says that, coronavirus can stay in the air for some time in closed spaces and the positivity rate of virus being present in the air could be 75% with two or more Covid-19 patients in a room, in contrast to 15.8% when the room is occupied either by one or no covid-19 patients.
Simultaneous observations from both (previous and current studies) suggest that inattention of SARS-CoV-2 RNA is higher in indoor air as that of outdoor air; and in indoors, it is higher in hospitals and healthcare centers that host a larger number of Covid-19 patients, as that of community indoors.”
Dr Rakesh Mishra, the lead scientist of the work, CSIR Distinguished Emeritus Professor at the CCMB, and Director, Tata Institute for Genetics and Society added that the air surveillance technique is not just limited to coronavirus but can also be optimized to monitor other air-born infections.