Virtually all of us have been on a plane, in a bus or in a car, when someone nearby coughs or sneezes. Sometimes he covers his mouth, other times not. Regardless, often your first thought goes to hoping you do not catch anything that person might be inadvertently sharing. That is because intuitively, we recognize that disease and germs move through the air. It does not take a doctor to figure that out. That said, some leading organizations still are slow to acknowledge it.

The World Health Organization is not presenting COVID-19 as an airborne threat. So little wonder it leaves many folks a tad confused. Additionally, our own Centers for Disease Control has been slow to get it right, too.  The CDC contends that airborne transmission is uncommon. And while that might be accurate – studies and research are ongoing as they should be – uncommon certainly does not mean impossible. So, we have been asked to wear masks to reduce that possibility of airborne transmission – however small – as we try to work through a global pandemic. Think better safe than sorry. Masks do help prevent the spread of COVID.

The links below details the positions of these respective organizations. Also, you can hear from an infectious disease epidemiologist, who draws on her background to offer her take.

Science Brief: SARS-CoV-2 and Potential Airborne Transmission

Infection prevention and control during health care when novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection is suspected

Maria Van Kerkhove, @mvankerkhove, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist

Credit: Trinks’ Images

Abundant research and information readily available illustrates clearly that clean air lowers the risk for an array of diseases – among them asthma, COPD, heart disease, stroke. Clean air also goes a long way toward reducing the transmission of pathogens. The links below provide evidence of this.

Individual- and Household-Level Interventions to Reduce Air Pollution Exposures and Health Risks: a Review of the Recent Literature

Transmissibility and transmission of respiratory viruses