COVID-19 evolves, ‘gets better’ at becoming an airborne virus

College Park, Maryland – A new study shows that recent variants of COVID-19 are more adept at airborne transmission than the original version of the coronavirus. University of Maryland researchers analyzed an alpha variant that originated from the UK and discovered that carriers breathe 43 to 100 times Viral aerosols are more infectious than those infected with the original strain.

On a positive note, the study authors say that some face coverings typically cut the amount of exhaled viral particles in half.

“Our latest study provides additional evidence for the importance of air transportation,” says Dr. Don Melton, professor of environmental health at the Maryland School of Public Health (UMD SPH). University release. “We know that the circulating delta variant is now more contagious than the alpha variant. Our research indicates that variants are getting better at air travel, so we should provide better ventilation and wear tight-fitting masks, in addition to vaccination, to help stop the spread of the virus.”

Larger viral loads entering the air

Scientists explain that these new variables It results in a much greater “viral load” for carriers of infection, indicating the amount of virus present inside the body. However, the new study found that the amount of coronavirus released into the air by the altered alpha vectors was much more (18 times) than the viral loads alone should be able to do. This indicates that SARS-CoV-2 literally improves when Travel and air transportation With the passage of time.

“We already knew that virus in saliva and nasal swabs increased in alpha variant infection. The virus can be transmitted from the nose and mouth by spraying large droplets near an infected person. But our study shows that the virus in exhaled aerosols increases even more,” explains the author Study participant and doctoral student Jianyu Lai.

Meanwhile, tests of face masks have shown that commonly used face coverings such as Loose cloth and surgical masks Reducing the amount of virus-laden particles released into the air during breathing, and reducing the amount by about 50 percent. However, the results certainly do not indicate that face masks alone can do this Offer complete protection.

“The take-home messages from this paper are that coronavirus can be in your exhaled breath, that it improves in your exhaled breath, and mask use reduces the chance of it being inhaled to others,” concluded study co-author Dr. Jennifer German.

Study authors recommend a “layered approach” Prevention of COVID-19 In public or indoor spaces including vaccinations, tight-fitting masks, improved ventilation, increased filtration, and UV sterilization of air.

The study Appears in the magazine Clinical infectious diseases.

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