Replying to SCANVAC’s call for recognition of airborne transmission of COVID-19 and implementation of adequate measures to prevent it, a group of scientists from Nordic countries gathered to participate in this petition.
The primary method prescribed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the population is the physical distance between people and handwashing, given that transmission through droplets is recognized as the main route of transmission. However, the current scientific evidence does not rule out that the transmission can also take place through virus-laden aerosol suspended in air and moving within the air currents (aka airborne transmission).
Even though airborne transmission has been documented for the outbreak of other diseases like SARS, influenza, measles, etc. and underpinned by scientists, it has not been fully acknowledged for the spread of COVID-19. It is believed that ignoring this transmission route is irresponsible, since there are several practical solutions that could reduce the spread, including the role of ventilation in buildings.
For this reason, the group of scientists propose a list of safety precautions considering the current capacity of ventilation systems installed in buildings.
In short, the group of scientists propose that:
Airborne transmission of infectious diseases through virus-laden micro-droplets should be recognized as a valid route of transmission in occupied spaces (buildings and transportation).
The measures given in the REHVA COVID-19 Guidance should be immediately applied to reduce the infection risks related to the present pandemic.
Research funding agencies and industry should invest in developing practical technical solutions protecting against the airborne transmission of infectious diseases in indoor environments, buildings, and transportation means.
Building codes, standards, and guidelines should be revised and updated to improve preparedness for future epidemics.
The proposed actions will provide concurrent benefits for reducing the risk of airborne transmitted viral diseases and general health in times between epidemics.