Dismantling myths on the airborne transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)

Julian W. Tang, William P. Bahnfleth, Philomena M. Bluyssen, Giorgio Buonanno, Jose L. Jimenez, Jarek Kurnitski, Yuguo Li, Shelly Miller, Chandra Sekhar, Lidia Morawska, Linsey C Marr, Arsen Krikor Melikov, William W. Nazaroff, Peter V. Nielsen, Raymond Tellier, Pawel Wargocki, Stephanie J. Dancer*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review

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    The Covid-19 pandemic has caused untold disruption and enhanced mortality rates around the world. Understanding the mechanisms for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is key to preventing further spread but there is confusion over the meaning of "airborne" whenever transmission is discussed. Scientific ambivalence originates from evidence published many years ago, which has generated mythological beliefs that obscure current thinking. This article gathers together and explores some of the most commonly held dogmas on airborne transmission in order to stimulate revision of the science in the light of current evidence. Six 'myths' are presented, explained, and ultimately refuted on the basis of recently published papers and expert opinion from previous work related to similar viruses. There is little doubt that SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted via a range of airborne particle sizes subject to all the usual ventilation parameters and human behaviour. Experts from specialties encompassing aerosol studies, ventilation, engineering, physics, virology and clinical medicine have joined together to present this review, in order to consolidate the evidence for airborne transmission mechanisms and offer justification for modern strategies for prevention and control of Covid-19 in healthcare and community.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
    Pages (from-to)89-96
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • Virus
    • SARS-CoV-2
    • Covid-19
    • Air
    • Transmission
    • Aerosol


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