The highly infectious nature of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus has puzzled researchers and made it difficult to contain. Now, a new study may answer some of the questions about how the virus has been able to spread so quickly. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that COVID-19 could be spread simply by talking. Here’s what you need to know about this new study and what it could mean for efforts to contain the virus.
What Did the Study Find?
The results of this recent study found that liquid droplets formed by speaking could remain in the air for between 8 and 14 minutes, depending on their size. Because of this, the study concluded that there was a substantial risk of the virus building up in the air of enclosed spaces, creating an environment where transmission was more likely to occur.
How Do These Findings Differ From Previous Models of Transmission?
Most attempts to contain COVID-19 have assumed that the virus spreads primarily through droplets that are created when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The fact that the virus could be transmitted by just speaking increases the risk of spread in public places such as grocery stores and medical offices.
This kind of spread also increases the risk of transmission from asymptomatic carriers. There is already strong evidence that 50 percent or more of people infected with COVID-19 show no symptoms of the disease. If the virus can be spread when asymptomatic people speak, it becomes much more difficult to contain.
The lifespan of the virus in the air also raises some serious concerns. Larger droplets, like those produced by coughing and sneezing, typically fall to the ground fairly quickly. The fact that these smaller droplets can remain in the air for up to 14 minutes means that a person could be infected simply by walking into the same room a viral carrier was in several minutes earlier.
Overall, this study offers deeper insights into how the virus could be spreading, even as significant steps are taken to contain it. It also underlines the importance of taking all possible measures to keep yourself safe from this virus. Be sure to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands routinely to avoid spreading the virus. We also recommend using a high-quality HEPA air purifier as an added layer of protection to help reduce the levels of the virus in the air itself.