Abstract Human respiratory virus infections lead to a spectrum of respiratory symptoms and disease severity, contributing to substantial morbidity, mortality and economic losses worldwide, as seen in the COVID-19 pandemic. Belonging to diverse families, respiratory viruses differ in how easy they spread (transmissibility) and the mechanism (modes) of transmission. Transmissibility as estimated by the basic reproduction number (R0) or secondary attack rate is heterogeneous for the same virus. Respiratory viruses can be transmitted via four major modes of transmission: direct (physical) contact, indirect contact (fomite), (large) droplets and (fine) aerosols. We know little about the relative contribution of each mode to the transmission of a particular virus in different settings, and how its variation affects transmissibility and transmission dynamics. 


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Citation: Leung, N.H.L. Transmissibility and transmission of respiratory viruses. Nat Rev Microbiol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41579-021-00535-6