WHO protocols on virus spread out of step with reality: scientists

Experts believe airborne spread of coronavirus much more deadly than acknowledged.

A man sneezes and releases droplets in the air

More than 200 scientists worldwide have written an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying coronavirus can be spread in the air.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the 232 experts from 32 countries believe “aerosols – microscopic versions of standard respiratory droplets – can hang in the air for long periods and float more than four metres, making poorly ventilated rooms, buses and other confined spaces dangerous, even when people stay 1.5 metres from one another”.

This is at odds with the WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which contend you only catch the disease by inhaling respiratory droplets from an infected person in your immediate vicinity or by touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth.

The open letter, soon to be published in a scientific journal, reportedly accuses the WHO of “failing to issue appropriate warnings about the risk” posed by aerosols.

WHO officials say that aerosol transmission occurs only during medical procedures such as intubation that can “spew large quantities of the microscopic particles”, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The New York Times holds that its research paints “a picture of an organisation that, despite good intentions, is out of step with science”.

“If airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, especially in crowded spaces with poor ventilation, the consequences for containment will be significant,” it says.

“Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially distant settings. Healthcare workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients.

“Ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences and businesses may need to minimise recirculating air and add powerful new filters. Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors.”

Dr Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead on infection control, says the evidence for the virus spreading by air is unconvincing.

“Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence,” she said. “There is a strong debate on this.”

It was already known that some people, known as ‘super spreaders’, exhale 1000 times more fine material than others. And a study examining how a suspended virus mist in a laboratory concluded it remained infectious for three hours. Analysis of an outbreak among choir members in Washington furthered the aerosol theory.

“We believe it likely that shared air in the fellowship hall, combined with high emissions of respiratory aerosol from singing, were important contributing factors,” the resulting paper said.

Eventually, a coalition of researchers began to push for recognition of the danger of airborne coronavirus, saying it was “less contagious through the air than measles but that the risk of transmission goes up the longer air remains stagnant and the longer people continue to breathe it”.

Donald Milton, a University of Maryland environmental health professor who co-wrote the letter, said the average person breathes 10,000 litres of air each day.

“You only need one infectious dose of the coronavirus in 10,000 litres, and it can be very hard to find it and prove that it's there, which is one of the problems we've had,” he said.

Experts who spoke to The New York Times were sympathetic about the political difficulties, growing workload and shrinking funding of the WHO, but found its infection prevention and control committee held a “rigid and overly medicalised view of scientific evidence, is “slow and risk-averse” and “allows a few conservative voices to shout down dissent”.

“They’ll die defending their view,” said one longstanding WHO consultant.

People generally “think and talk about airborne transmission profoundly stupidly,” said Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

He insists the coronavirus is most infectious when people were in prolonged contact at close range, especially indoors, as scientists would expect from aerosol transmission.

Dr Paul Hunter, a member of the infection prevention committee and professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in Britain, told The New York Times that proof of the aerosol theory was needed before hospitals in low and middle-income countries diverted scarce resources.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said the agency was trying to evaluate new scientific evidence as fast as possible, but without sacrificing the quality of their review.

“We take it seriously when journalists or scientists or anyone challenges us and says we can do better than this,” she said.

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    COMMENTS

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    justme
    8th Jul 2020
    10:57am
    "Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors.”

    Maybe, but tooooo expensive for us masses to buy for our homes.
    Would probably need more than one, and would need certification to weed out fakes.

    But interesting.
    Steff
    8th Jul 2020
    11:12am
    The Sheeple arent frightened enough,Lets terrify them even more.When are people going to stop listening to these Fraudulant "EXPERTS"
    Funkee
    8th Jul 2020
    12:01pm
    Spot on Steff...When are people going to wake up? Almost everyday there is more fear based propaganda to keep the gullible consumed by fear. It's become so predictable it's almost funny. It was only a week or two ago they told us that covid cannot survive on a smooth hard surface for all but a few minutes, now it's lookout it's blowing in the wind and it's going to get you, - run, hide, wear masks, while we lock you up under house arrest. As long as people rely on the lame stream media for the news they WILL be deceived.
    john
    8th Jul 2020
    12:16pm
    Funkee is totally correct, media are as irresponsible with guess work and made up panic stories and really 6 and a half feet or 12 and a half feet? If its floating its already doing that anyway , how on earth would they measure that absolutely , it is simply dangerous so social distance as told wash your hands regularly wear a mask as risk protector, really just to cut the odds! But worth the doing!
    Wash your hands at home when you walk in the door, wash regularly at home and when leaving , just some common sense, but sending out panic to the public seems to be a media sickness these days, rumours become the "truth" and we can't know about floating in the air, really media as with bush fores climate change nonsense , they are propagandists iof the highest level, eben our national tax payers broadcaster is in doubtful areas with bias most of the time. It's Dangerous folks .
    Hirajima
    8th Jul 2020
    12:44pm
    Oh god, brave conspiracy theorists lurking in every shadowy corner. Don't rely on the news, rely on Facebook and all your crazy mates who know as little as you do instead. #covidiots
    Brissiegirl
    8th Jul 2020
    11:34am
    The following was written by an experienced Covid-19 emergency nurse:

    For those people who don't understand what it means to be on a ventilator, but want to take your chances....
    It's NOT an oxygen mask put over the mouth while the patient is comfortably lying down. Ventilation for Covid-19 is a painful intubation that goes down your throat and stays there until you live or you die.

    It's done under anesthesia for 2 to 3 weeks without moving, often lying upside down, with a tube inserted from the mouth up to the trachea, allowing you to breathe to the rhythm of the lung machine. The patient can't talk or eat, or do anything naturally - the machine keeps you alive.

    The discomfort and pain felt from this means medical experts have to administer sedatives and painkillers to ensure tube tolerance for as long as the machine is needed. It's like being in an artificial coma.

    After 20 days from this treatment, a younger patient loses 40% muscle mass, and gets mouth or vocal cords trauma, as well as possible pulmonary or heart complications.

    It is for this reason that old, or already weak people can't withstand the treatment and die. Many of us are in this boat ... so stay safe unless you want to take the chance of ending up here. This is NOT the flu.

    Add a tube into your stomach, either through your nose or skin for liquid food, a sticky bag around your butt to collect the diarrhea, a foley to collect urine, an IV for fluids and meds, an A-line f to monitor your BP that is completely dependent upon finely calculated med doses, teams of nurses, CRNA’s and MA’s to reposition your limbs every two hours and lying on a mat that circulates ice cold fluid to help bring down your 104 degree temp.

    Not a nice survival plan for vulnerable and elderly.
    Tood
    8th Jul 2020
    11:48am
    Dont be surprised if your post gets taken down by admin as this same one I put on last week was...probably considered too frightening for the oldies!
    Brissiegirl
    8th Jul 2020
    12:07pm
    Tood, a pity your post was taken down. We're living in times where information and opinion is so heavily censored it's become a population control mechanism. The description is scary, but worth reading, just in case some people need to be a little more cautious.
    john
    8th Jul 2020
    12:24pm
    Really Brissygirl this is not needed and is a frightening thing to read , true and probably the older folk die from the treatment, but not all, this is not the time to be frightening the living daylights out of diligent people doing the right thing which most have I 'd hope, is not the way to get ignorant fools who refuse testing and or don't have any idea about the virus especially people locked down and having not been quarantined properly.

    What is needed now is legislation in law , too bad if it takes some freedom away , better than what you just described. Which I find, on this retirement forum, highly inappropriate and I think that a more positive approach is needed rather than terror, YLC again you are a rather hard to understand news giver, you sensationalise a bit too much for some of your readers!
    AutumnOz
    8th Jul 2020
    2:16pm
    Thank you Brissiegirl for your friend's warning about the horror of the Intensive Care Unit for anyone coming down with Covid 19.

    John none of the information given out by news reports or YLC comes close to the horror of the treatment required to save lives.

    I am happy to stay at home all the time, except for necessary food shopping and doctor's appointments. I am not brave, but I am also not stupid enough to go out without taking precautions against this disease.
    Brissiegirl
    8th Jul 2020
    2:50pm
    Dear John,
    I will defend your right to any opinion even if I disagree with it. Whenever I hear someone telling someone else that facts are "inappropriate", alarm bells ring about encouragement of restricting important information for groups who may become complacent. People have minds of our own, we can take or leave information, but denial of it is becoming an impediment to our free society. Just as it would be wrong and negligent not to inform people that the frightening sight of blood in their poo means a possibility of bowel cancer, and what can happen if not taken seriously, it would be wrong to withhold any information that suggests vulnerables be extra cautious of this little understood disease, and why.

    From all reports, this virus is possibly the most contagious disease any of us will ever encounter. Heads in the sand and refusal to know and tell the (avoidable) ramifications, definitely won't extend lives.
    Elizzy
    8th Jul 2020
    4:01pm
    Thank you Brissie girl for the truth. Everyone also needs to know the truth about the after effects if you do survive intensive care. Read the testimonials emerging from 'long hauler' survivors. Yes, I wear a mask in public and do all the recommended mitigating actions. Stay safe everyone.
    Sceptic
    11th Jul 2020
    12:27pm
    Brissiegirl, perfectly correct to post and John is incorrect in his post that it is wrong to post something because it is frightening. I thought that this site was populated by oldies and the cancel culture was from the young. Obviously I am mistaken.
    sunny
    8th Jul 2020
    11:42am
    Very well done, brissiegirl. people must be told the dreadful outcome of covid-19.
    just because you cannot see it, doesn't mean it's not there.
    nearing 70, i will not be going anywhere near or far till a vaccine, if that's the case, so be it. you can get any delivered by masked up people, so why take the risk.
    The Thinker
    8th Jul 2020
    12:18pm
    COVID-19 survivors could suffer severe health effects for years. It's not worth taking risks at all.

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/13/world/coronavirus-survivors-severe-health-effects-years/
    john
    8th Jul 2020
    12:32pm
    Sunny a vaccine could be 2, 3, 5 years away, or never.Got to legislate for COVID19 protection, by law!
    By the way if you were that sick in hospital you may rather want to be incubated than dying of this thing when maybe you would survive, lets hope that stops happening, we nearly had NO BODY in hospital until that idiotic failure in Victoria, and bringing people Australian or not inside our borders, yet we can't get family home from interstate , what the hell are we doing bringing in COVID19 people from overseas!!!!

    WA, NO NEW CASES FOR 86 DAYS, now we got 12 again?????

    The Victorian Governor should sack the Andrews government, who did not do their job properly and supervise the lock down quarantine of people from overseas, expats or not!

    So what the hell do you believe about news stories, all of you media want to lift your game!
    KSS
    8th Jul 2020
    2:18pm
    John those people from overseas are Australian citizens and permenant residents. They are allowed to come home, they just have to do a rigerous quarantine period. And the lions share of those returnees have been quarantined in Sydney without incident.
    sunny
    8th Jul 2020
    11:42am
    Very well done, brissiegirl. people must be told the dreadful outcome of covid-19.
    just because you cannot see it, doesn't mean it's not there.
    nearing 70, i will not be going anywhere near or far till a vaccine, if that's the case, so be it. you can get any delivered by masked up people, so why take the risk.
    sunny
    8th Jul 2020
    11:42am
    Very well done, brissiegirl. people must be told the dreadful outcome of covid-19.
    just because you cannot see it, doesn't mean it's not there.
    nearing 70, i will not be going anywhere near or far till a vaccine, if that's the case, so be it. you can get any delivered by masked up people, so why take the risk.
    sunny
    8th Jul 2020
    11:43am
    repetition for emphasis so sorry guys
    sunny
    8th Jul 2020
    11:43am
    repetition for emphasis so sorry guys
    Sceptic
    11th Jul 2020
    12:29pm
    if you return to your post as soon as you have posted, then you are able to delete the repeat.
    jan
    8th Jul 2020
    11:49am
    Being an old school nurse I always assumed the virus could travel a fair distance and linger for days. Being a sensitive person I can smell a bush fire 10 miles away, must be some particles in the air. Scientists are experience people, they search beyond the medical profession. I study physics which goes deeper into the particles around us. Who invented nuclear power.....
    The Thinker
    8th Jul 2020
    12:20pm
    Dogs can detect cancer through smell and I am sure they can detect the virus too.
    Brissiegirl
    8th Jul 2020
    12:28pm
    Very interesting suggestion about dogs being able to detect this virus.

    I guess the scientists are discussing just how rampantly contagious this thing is. It makes sense that droplets hover and circulate for quite some time, more so indoors. I've not felt comfortable being sprayed by inconsiderate joggers when out walking. I've felt sure they’re leaving quite a long trail behind them. As for masks - it should be mandatory to use them in taxis and on public transport. Stunning isn't it, how earlier advice on masks has changed now they are readily available! Makes me wonder if the public were being misled due to the shortage. Either way, we have to co-exist and take care of ourselves - do not rely on anyone else - gut instinct is always the best guide for most things in life, imo.
    john
    8th Jul 2020
    12:05pm
    I'd say we wait and see what is a full on testing of spreading droplets and not just sitting theory, rather than YLC having comments in an article that will frighten the people in that danger age bracket.
    I find it quite disturbing and I heard this theory on TV news too.
    I think when the scientists of numbers 200 plus , become 20 thousand plus, and have absolute proof beyond theory, that is when we begin to change things if needed, you YLC indeed have an elderly audience, and you should slow up a bit with TND like reporting!
    Thoughtful
    8th Jul 2020
    12:35pm
    Australia closed it"s borders early - generally considered a successful move. Do we now need to wait for WHO to recommend wearing masks? For me the question is whether wearing of masks is a positive action or a negative one. This boils down to using them correctly. Yes I wear masks in public enclosed spaces. Should numbers continue to rise I will also consider it in some outdoor settings.
    aussiecarer
    8th Jul 2020
    12:49pm
    There are videos on you tube that show that there are lower levels of oxygen under masks due to the carbon dioxide that you are breathing out and trapping, so prolonged mask use can cause adverse reactions. Also apparently masks can increase people's susceptibility to pneumonia etc. I am not saying these claims about masks are true, although they seem plausible. It might be safer to hitch up a caravan and sojourn in a remote part of Australia :)
    Hirajima
    8th Jul 2020
    1:02pm
    The reduction of oxygen / increase of C)2 by masks is a myth that has well and truly been busted. Numerous studies have demonstrated this does not happen. Doctors have used oximeters to test their blood oxygen after 4 hours of surgery in N95 masks and in some cases their blood oxygen was even higher at the end. Let's face it, we don't want to wear masks cos they are uncool and we are not Asian (except those who are, of course, hehe).
    jan
    8th Jul 2020
    1:41pm
    I wore a mask hairdressing as I could not keep my distance cutting hair. Wearing the mask caused me to feel unwell and i almost passed out one day. I am asthmatic and wondering if this was the reason. Im not wearing the mask any more and feel better, still hairdressing, some ladies put their hair before anything else. Only do a few aweek to keep under the the threshold. Have worked in garages with door opens and under alfresco.
    Hirajima
    8th Jul 2020
    2:09pm
    It's quite possible that wearing a mask would affect people with respiratory problems more than those who don't suffer from those issues. Sorry to hear you are experiencing that. Your alternative of doing hair in well ventilated areas is a good compromise. My hairdresser does me on her patio when weather allows :) There was however a case in Missouri where two hairdressers wore masks and did 140 customers, after which both hairdressers had the virus - but not one customer caught it from them. So people who are able to wear them, it seems worth doing when possible.
    Tarzan
    8th Jul 2020
    4:04pm
    Thanks Brissiegirl, about time someone gave up the nasty facts
    Tarzan
    8th Jul 2020
    4:04pm
    Thanks Brissiegirl, about time someone gave up the nasty facts
    Triss
    8th Jul 2020
    4:25pm
    But when and how is all this going to end, six moths, a year, longer? Lockdown restrictions are bringing the country to its knees. Melbourne in lockdown, other borders tightly closed, businesses closing and overseas tourists not allowed. If Australia becomes bankrupt what then?
    Franky
    8th Jul 2020
    10:27pm
    Another reason to shift the focus to boosting your immune system and health. But oh no! that would mean less profits for the junk food and sickness industry
    Teacher
    8th Jul 2020
    11:57pm
    Yes, Jan. I believe that wearing a mask when you have asthma is a problem. I have found that I can't breathe properly. Also, if you think of it, to talk to someone it is hard to do through the layers of a mask. Then there's the question of removing it to eat at some food outlet. Also, I have the complication of reflux with the asthma, not to mention sinus (am allergic to 5 things) so when I cough I have to keep telling people I have asthma. It gets quite complicated.
    As I am something of a dressmaker I bought the proper material (thread count) and got a good pattern to make the masks but didn't do so because I found self-isolating from the start until just recently gave me a type of depression and I couldn't bring myself to do any of my usual things. I just couldn't look at the sewing machine. Did anyone else get a type of depression from self-isolating for so long?
    Here's a handy hint if your comment appears twice here. Go down to the second comment and click on 'report' and delete it.
    jan
    9th Jul 2020
    12:53am
    Sorry to hear you are depressed due to isolation. I do get depressed but it's because a family member is dying and I will properly never see them again due to international flight restrictions. Hope you have family you can talk or write to. Pets are comforting. We have overcome wars, and im sure the scientists will come up with a vaccine soon. Hang in there, write a book on your life or talk to a doctor, please don't suffer alone. I have a parrot who talks to me, some days he will say "are you alright" I know we have gone off the subject here, sorry.
    Teacher
    8th Jul 2020
    11:59pm
    Sorry Jan. To remove the second copy of your comment click on 'remove' not 'reply'.
    BillF2
    10th Jul 2020
    7:23pm
    Even Blind Freddie could see that the spread of the corona virus was quicker than could be achieved by casual person to person contact, and the fact that it jumped continents makes it look more like a deliberate attack using aerosols to infect air conditioning systems. How and why did cruise ships get so infected when they are at sea for a good portion of their time? Fresh air and sunshine are the best defence against the virus in the absence of any other antidote. I'm sorry to say that our so-called 'experts' are a little bit slow, and would make lousy detectives. And we have to rely on these people to work out how to get out of the corona virus mess. At this rate we could be in lockdown for years.
    BillF2
    10th Jul 2020
    7:35pm
    I cannot confirm this, but I have read that the corona virus is so small that it will pass through most masks, except those specifically made for the purpose, making them effectively useless against infection. Furthermore, not only can they make breathing difficult, but exhaled air is more likely to be re-circulated and oxygen intake reduced. No wonder Jan had problems. It also makes you wonder whether our health officials really have any idea about what to do. Maybe they are having an each way bet.
    Sceptic
    11th Jul 2020
    12:21pm
    "Experts" in COVID-19. Just where are they? How can one be an expert after 4 months or so. Plus, "they believe," so it is so?
    Farside
    11th Jul 2020
    5:32pm
    and that is the WHO's position – “we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence” – the 'experts' need to provide the evidence to support their theory, even one real world situation. Lab and thought experiments are not enough.
    jan
    12th Jul 2020
    4:05pm
    Knowing the truth could be worse then not.


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