Variants of Covid-19 have evolved and today are transmitted up to 100 times more through the air than the original strains

The results of a new study led by the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland show that people infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 breathe out the infectious virus, and those infected with the Alpha variant (the dominant strain circulating at the time of the study) put 43 to 100 times more viruses into the air than people infected with the original strains of the virus.

The researchers also found that surgical and loose-fitting masks reduced the amount of airborne virus around infected people. The study was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“Our latest study provides more evidence of the importance of airborne transmission”, Dr. Don Milton, Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, said in a statement. “We know that the Delta variant on the road now is even more contagious than the Alpha variant. Our research indicates that the variants keep getting better when it comes to air travel, so we need to provide better ventilation and wear tight-fitting masks, in addition to the vaccine, to help stop the spread of the virus. “

A man walks in Manhattan, New York. Photo: Reuters

The amount of airborne virus from Alpha variant infections was much higher, 18 times more, than could be explained by the increased amount of virus in nasal swabs and saliva.

One of the lead authors, PhD student Jianyu Lai, explained that “We already knew that the virus in saliva and nasal swabs increased in Alpha variant infections. The nose and mouth virus can be transmitted by Large droplet sprays near an infected person. But our study shows that the virus in exhaled aerosols is increasing even more. ”

These significant increases in airborne virus alpha infections occurred before the Delta variant arrived and indicate that the virus is evolving to better travel through the air.

To test whether masks work to prevent the virus from spreading between people, this study measured the amount of Sars-CoV-2 breathed in the air and evaluated the amount of virus that people sick with Covid-19 breathed out into the air after donning a surgical cloth or mask.

Face coverings significantly reduced airborne virus-laden particles around the person with Covid-19, reducing the amount by approximately 50%. Unfortunately, loose cloth and surgical masks did not prevent the infectious virus from reaching the air.

Co-author Dr. Jennifer German said: “The message of this article is that the coronavirus may be when you breathe out, it is improving on your exhaled breath and wearing a mask reduces the chance that you will breathe that of others. “. This means a layered approach to control measures (including better ventilation, increased filtration, UV air sanitation, and tight-fitting masks, in addition to vaccination) it is essential to protect people in public works and indoors.

Photo: Reuters


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