A new study conducted by researchers in collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health has highlighted a new way in which SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19 can transmit from one person to another.
Previously, research had already shown that the coronavirus transmission is fairly easy since through the infection’s symptoms such as coughing sneezing, both of which release aerosol particles into the air which can travel and infect any person nearby.
However, health experts, on the basis of further investigation on coronavirus transmission, have also stated that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can also spread from normal, everyday activities including minimal verbal contact.
The new findings of the study, whose findings appear in the PNAS journal, further confirmed that talking can help in the spread of the virus. More specifically, the researchers emphasized how talking loudly can release the virus into the air and it may stay there for around fourteen minutes.
How does this happen? According to health experts, activities such as talking also release several tiny droplets into the air. In comparison with normal aerosol particles, these are even smaller in comparison and can stay in the air for a long period of time as well as travel long distances.
For the new study, the researchers recruited a number of participants and asked them to repeat specific phrases out loudly. While the participants were saying the phrases, the droplets released during the process were visualized via the use of ultrasensitive lasers.
Prior to the study, there have been investigations on the presence of viral RNA in the mouth of an infected person.
On the basis of those investigations, the researchers estimated that talking for merely sixty seconds or one minute can release up to one thousand coronavirus containing droplets into the air.
Moreover, they added that once the particles in the air, they can stay there for an average of eight minutes or even for as long as fourteen minutes.
These findings accentuate how trivial activities by a person infected with COVID-19 can also help in coronavirus transmission. Furthermore, it shows the importance of wearing a mask.
While it is true that wearing a normal cloth mask, in accordance with the guidelines from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, cannot protect from the coronavirus infection, it can still stop the spread from an infected person, thereby minimizing the spread of the virus.
In the majority of the cases, COVID-19 has appeared to be asymptomatic which means that the affected person has displayed none of the known signs of the infection.
Since the new study has now shown that SARS-CoV-2 can spread via normal verbal activities, it may also possibly explain the fast spread of the virus recently across the US and in countries in South Asia.
Some patients have more viral RNA in their oral cavity which means that they may release even more viruses than others. These findings show that wearing a cloth mask is indeed fundamental in controlling the pandemic at the moment.
However, there is still further investigation needed on the matter as some researchers have pointed out that the study has been carried out in a highly controlled environment and has not taken certain factors such as air pressure and temperature into account.
In addition, the premise of the study assumes that every single one of the viruses has an equal chance of causing an infection which is not true in accordance with the previous medical literature on coronaviruses.
Till more research is done on the matter, wearing a cloth mask and following all other guidelines on prevention of COVID-19 is fundamental and recommended.