Writing for The Conversation, Dr. Douglas Reed said respiratory infections are generally spread in three possible ways: from direct contact, from droplets and from airborne particles.
According to a report by the New York Times, the World Health Organization said that the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads primarily from one person to another via small droplets that come from the nose and the mouth when a person sneezes, talks, or coughs.
The scientist noted that not just the novel coronavirus may be carried by large droplets released through the air after a sneeze, but much smaller exhaled droplets containing the virus may glide the length of a room.
"We are concerned that the lack of recognition of the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 and the lack of clear recommendations on the control measures against the airborne virus will have significant consequences", the scientists wrote. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic, has infected more than 11.4 million people, killing at least 533,000 as of June 6, 2020.
An worldwide group of 239 scientists on Monday urged authorities including the World Health Organization to recognize that the coronavirus can spread in the air at distances well beyond two meters (six feet), and to revise their prevention guidelines accordingly.
The WHO told the Los Angeles Times that the 239 researchers had based their assertions on lab experiments instead of field evidence. Many of us have claimed its relevance from very early in this pandemic.
The WHO previously dismissed claims that the virus is airborne in response to a study authored by researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska, and others. He added, however, that "it is well understood that aerosolization as a mode of transmission".
Trying to figure out where exactly in the spectrum covid-19 lies is definitely important for scientists to study, and new findings may prompt changes in restrictions and regulations going forward (such as mandating that buildings prove that their ventilation can quickly circulate fresh air).
"The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks", the World Health Organization wrote on Twitter in March.
"There is no incontrovertible proof that SARS-CoV-2 travels or is transmitted significantly by aerosols, but there is absolutely no evidence that it's not", said Dr Trish Greenhalgh, a primary care doctor at the University of Oxford in Britain.
Reassuringly, the interventions that have been implemented to limit spread of the virus, such as social distancing, have been largely successful so far in most of Australia.
Nonetheless, per the Los Angeles Times, the experts argue that this guidance that warns about the two types of transmission ignores the evidence that airborne transmission also plays a significant role in the virus's spread.
So far, scientists have been unable to culture viral particles pulled from the air, but that doesn't necessarily mean that viruses in aerosols are incapable of causing infection.
Professor Morawska said several retrospective studies of the SARS epidemic had shown that airborne transmission was the most likely mechanism that explained the spatial pattern of infections.