Coronavirus variants ‘better at travelling through the air,’ raising transmission risk, study finds

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TORONTO – A new study has found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is evolving into its newer forms to be better in the air, raising concerns that the loose -Fold face masks provide only “slight control”. “Against infection.

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The study, led by the University of Maryland School of Public Health, reports that the virus has moved toward “more efficient aerosol generation.” The researchers say this means that public health measures will be needed to protect those working in public-facing jobs and indoors until vaccination rates become “very high”. for.

Those measures include better ventilation, enhanced filtration, UV air sanitation and tighter-fitting masks, in addition to vaccines.

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The study was published in peer-reviewed Tuesday medical journal clinical infectious diseases.

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The results of the new study show that people infected with the alpha version exhaled 43 to 100 times more virus into the air when they inhaled, compared to people infected with the original strain of the virus.

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The study said that this was the major strain that was spreading during the research period.

Don Milton, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland, said the findings provide further evidence that transmission of COVID-19 is primarily airborne, by spraying large droplets from the nose and mouth of an infected person. It spreads when it is in close proximity.

“We know that the delta version is now more contagious than the alpha version. Our research indicates that as variants are becoming better able to travel through the air, we should provide better ventilation and wear tight-fitting masks.” should be worn, in addition to vaccination, to help prevent the spread of the virus,” Milton said Press release.

The researchers found that the amount of airborne virus from alpha-type infections was 18 times greater than the amount of virus found in nasal swabs and saliva.

“We already knew that the virus in saliva and nasal swabs increased in alpha-type infections,” one of the study’s lead authors and doctoral student Jianyu Lai said in the release. “But our study shows that the virus is growing even more in exhaled aerosols.”

These increases in airborne viruses from the alpha type infection occurred before the delta variant arrived in the US, indicating that the virus is “evolving to be better able to travel through the air,” the researchers said.

To test how well masks work at preventing airborne spread, researchers measured how much of the air that infected patients with COVID-19 breathed in and compared it to the amount of virus that spread through clothing or clothing. Comes out wearing a surgical mask.

The study found that face coverings “significantly reduced” the amount of virus that is released into the air from people infected with COVID-19 by about 50 percent, but noted that loose-fitting clothing and surgical masks contain the virus. are unable to stop the particles completely. coming into the air.

The researchers said the study shows that a “layered approach” to virus control measures is “critical” to protect those returning to public work places.

“The take-home message of this paper is that the coronavirus may be in your breath, [it] “Your exhalation is getting better, and using a mask can make you less likely to inhale it onto others,” Jennifer German, co-author and assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland, said in the release. “

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