Corona virus is identified in air pollution particles – but that doesn’t mean it spreads this way

A study from Italy found a gene specific for the coronavirus in air pollution particles. Experts say there is no need to panic. (Photo: Getty Images).

After the corona virus has infected more than 3 million people worldwide, the question of how SARS-CoV-2 spreads has become increasingly relevant. Experts remain confident that the virus will be transmitted by individuals through droplets of breath. However, a new study from Italy, initially treated by the Guardian, suggests further research into whether it can be spread in the air.

The study, published on the health science website Medrxiv, analyzed air pollution particles in Bergamo, Italy, from late February to early March. There, scientists found the presence of a specific COVID-19 gene in the air pollution particles and came to the conclusion that this is the “first preliminary evidence” that “SARS-CoV-2-RNA can be present on particles outdoors”.

The researchers found that “no assumptions can be made” about the presence of the virus in air pollution particles and the fact that a high volume of coronavirus cases has occurred in northern Italy. Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, stressed that the results should not be a cause for concern.

“When you look at air samples and air pollution particles, there are many studies that have shown that different microorganisms migrate with them,” Adalja told Yahoo Life, noting that other coronaviruses such as SARS (or severe acute respiratory syndrome) have also been found in air particles. “There are many examples where you can find this type of microorganism spread pattern. However, this does not necessarily mean an infection risk. “

Dr. William Schaffner, epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, agrees. “[The authors] I don’t know that the virus is alive. So these can only be viral fragments, you know, ”Schaffner told Yahoo Life. “Let’s just say it’s alive just to argue, because that’s the kind of worst-case scenario. Is there an infectious dose?”

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According to Schaffner, the mere presence of living SARS-CoV-2 particles (the virus that causes COVID-19) in the air would not necessarily be enough to cause an infection. “You have to get a certain amount of virus into your body before it can cause an infection,” says Schaffner. “And even if it were alive, I don’t realize that this would be an infectious dose of the virus.”

Adalja supports this by noting that the virus were Spread through contaminated particles, the current number of infections would likely differ dramatically. “You would have much more common infections; You would have many more people who are inexplicably infected, ”he says. “It would really be a different spread pattern. The cases would not be linked because they would not be caused by contact. “

While Adalja finds the study interesting, he is not at all concerned about its effects. “This is an interesting finding and not surprising, but is it an important method by which this virus infects people?” he asks. “The answer is no.”

As of now, the disease control and prevention centers claim that the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, wear a mask around others, and follow the guidelines on social distancing.

For the latest corona virus news and updates, follow at Experts say people over 60 and those with weakened immune systems remain the most at risk. If you have any questions, please contact the CDCAnd WHO Resource manuals.

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