Governments and health leaders should focus efforts to fight Covid-19 on airborne transmission through better air quality initiatives, according to an editorial in the British Medical Journal.
An article in the journal by consultant Julian W Tang, Professor Linsey C Marr, Professor Yuguo Li and consultant Stephanie J Dancer says that Covid-19 had redefined airborne transmission.
They contend that there had been "poorly defined divisions between 'droplet', 'airborne' and 'droplet nuclei' transmissions which had led to "misunderstandings over the physical behaviour of these particles".
The article states that "if you can inhale particles – regardless of their size or name– you are breathing in aerosols" and "although this can happen at long range, it is more likely when close to someone, as the aerosols between two people are much more concentrated at short range".
The authors also state that the quality of a mask "matters for effective protection against inhaled aerosols" because "even talking and breathing are aerosol-generating procedures" that can get through less secure masks.
Therefore, the authors argue for better indoor air quality which they say "will bring other benefits, including reduced sick leave for other respiratory viruses and even environmentally related complaints such as allergies and sick building syndrome" as well as "less absenteeism – with its adverse effect on productivity – could save companies significant costs, which would offset the expense of upgrading their ventilation systems".
They say: "Newer systems, including air cleaning and filtration technologies, are becoming ever more efficient."
The authors warn that Covid-19 may well become seasonal, and "we will have to live with it as we do with influenza".