RIVM change your mind: Distribution coronavirus via aerosols sometimes anyway possible

According to a study by the RIVM separating some infected people from many virus to infect others at great distances.

It was pure coincidence, he says. Monday was the public letter in which 239 scientists, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for more attention to the spread of the new coronavirus through the air. Ensure cafes and offices can be ventilated as everyone soon goes back inside, their message was. The virus not only spreads through cough droplets, but also through the much smaller aerosols remain suspended for a long time in rooms.

According to virologists plays this infection route a marginal role and RIVM stressed all along that the epidemic must be stopped by keeping distance and hygiene to be observed.

The ink coverage on the subject had not yet dried or calculated came RIVM yourself with a study out on the role of aerosols. So anyway !, heralded scattered response. But that would be one of the researchers, Erwin Duizer not summarize the research. “Our main conclusion is that the average infected person so little virus secretes tiny droplets that spread through the air does not contribute to the risk of infection.”

That does not apply to everyone. From throat samples examined by the RIVM shows that contain mucus of approximately 1 in 20 infected persons extreme virus, up to one hundred times the average. Duizer: “If such a person speaks or coughs without much moisture separation, there is nothing wrong. But he does, and once in a confined space, such as a bus or a cafe, then the chances are that it infects many people. ”

What chance is exactly, the researchers do not. Apart from throat samples, the research is a pilot study. They took data from the literature about the amount of people excrete droplets when coughing, sneezing, talking, singing or breathing. They have created a mathematical model for the distribution of large and small droplets in various areas and then calculated the likelihood that others in the area contaminated by such drop.

Duizer: “We have not calculated the probability that a person is infected. We do not know how many virus particles are needed for infection. The assessment shows that 1 in 5, but perhaps only 1 in 100 virus particles is infectious. That is, the big unknown. ”

“Strong indication that it is limited to the role of aerosols’

Not only that, responding Ron Fouchier, professor of virology at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. “We do not know how many live virus enters the droplets, we do not know how much of this remains infectious in the droplets and not much infectious virus particles are needed for infection. For answers needed to these questions are experimental evidence and giving out this study. ”

Therefore remains Fouchier, which did not endorse the letter to the WHO, in its view that the role of aerosols in the spread of this new coronavirus is limited. “This is evident from the fact that the Netherlands took first steps – stay home prohibit sickness, hygiene and exercise major events – were successful. It is a strong indication that limited the role of aerosols. ”

That Duizer with him. But there are in his circumstances in which that role is just great. And it is good to take into account there.

By working to make ventilation as 239 scientists advocated? “That’s a risk assessment to make that policy. The current measures have curbed the virus, but the policy has never been to reduce the risk to zero. That message has never propagated the RIVM. That is why we say now: be aware of this risk. But the question is whether the high cost of ventilation in proportion to the outbreak you could avoid it. ”

Good ventilation is required to prevent infection with the coronavirus, scientists in an open letter to the WHO. Dutch virologists are not convinced.

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