New study supports idea that coronavirus can be transmitted through the air

Published on : 02/09/2020 – 19:29

A study, led by Chinese scientists, supports (like other studies before it) the idea that the coronavirus can be transmitted via the air, therefore by breathing. The authors looked at a coach in China; in this poorly ventilated bus, an infected passenger but not yet symptomatic would have contaminated a third of the people in the vehicle. The study was published in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The story takes place in mid-January, in a province in eastern China. About 130 people from the same city are transported via two coaches to a Buddhist event which takes place mainly outdoors. The outward journey then back takes about 2 hours. No one wears a mask.

While in a bus, no passenger will be infected; in the other, 24 out of 68 people will be infected – that’s more than a third. At the origin of this cluster according to the authors of the study: a passenger who had a link with residents of Wuhan, cradle of the epidemic. During this coach ride where he was seated in the center, he still had no symptoms. No coughing, therefore, nor sneezing. Interesting point: the circle of infections goes far beyond the seats and the rows around it: passengers located in the front and in the rear are contaminated.

The spread of the coronavirus via the air, by respiration, is therefore very likely in this situation; the authors also point out that the coach’s ventilation system must have accentuated this diffusion: the air recirculated inside the passenger compartment, which moreover is without being renewed. And they conclude: ” in enclosed environments with air recirculation, the [coronavirus] is a highly transmissible pathogen ยป.

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