'Coronavirus is airborne': More than 200 scientists write open letter to WHO, asking to revise recommendations

Scientists from 32 countries have outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people.

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Experts say the coronavirus is borne through air and can infect people when inhaled.
NEW YORK: More than 200 scientists from 32 nations have written to the WHO, saying there is evidence that the coronavirus is airborne and even smaller particles can infect people, a significant departure from the UN health agency's claims so far that COVID-19 is spread primarily through coughs and sneezes.

A report in The New York Times says that clusters of infections are rising globally as people go back to bars, restaurants, offices, markets and casinos, a trend that increasingly confirms that the virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby.

"...in an open letter to the WHO, 239 scientists in 32 countries have outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people, and are calling for the agency to revise its recommendations," the report said, adding that the researchers plan to publish their letter in a scientific journal next week.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has long held that the coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

In its latest update dated June 29 on the coronavirus, the WHO said airborne transmission of the virus was possible only after medical procedures that produce aerosols, or droplets smaller than 5 microns.

The guidance that the health agency has given to deal with the virus, such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent handwashing, since the pandemic first broke is based on its claim that the virus spreads through large droplets when an infected person coughs and sneezes.
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"If airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, especially in crowded spaces with poor ventilation, the consequences for containment will be significant. Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially-distant settings. Health care workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients," the NYT report said.
​In its latest update, the WHO had said airborne transmission of coronavirus was possible only after medical procedures that produce aerosols, or droplets smaller than 5 microns. ​
In its latest update, the WHO had said airborne transmission of coronavirus was possible only after medical procedures that produce aerosols, or droplets smaller than 5 microns.

It said that ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences and businesses may need to minimise recirculating air and add powerful new filters.

"Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors," it said.

WHO's technical lead on infection control Dr Benedetta Allegranzi, however, said in the report that the evidence for the virus spreading by air was unconvincing.
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"Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence. There is a strong debate on this," she said.

Interviews with nearly 20 scientists, including a dozen WHO consultants and several members of the committee that crafted the guidance, and internal emails "paint a picture of an organization that, despite good intentions, is out of step with science," the report said.
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"Whether carried aloft by large droplets that zoom through the air after a sneeze, or by much smaller exhaled droplets that may glide the length of a room, these experts said, the coronavirus is borne through air and can infect people when inhaled," it said.

Experts pointed out that WHO's infection prevention and control committee is "bound by a rigid and overly medicalised view of scientific evidence, is slow and risk-averse in updating its guidance and allows a few conservative voices to shout down dissent".

"They'll die defending their view," one longstanding WHO consultant was quoted as saying in the report.

The WHO was relying on a dated definition of airborne transmission. The agency believes an airborne pathogen, like the measles virus, has to be highly infectious and to travel long distances, said Linsey Marr, an expert in airborne transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech.

A Bioweapon Or Effects Of 5G? 7 Conspiracy Theories Around Coronavirus That Will Shock You
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The coronavirus outbreak has brought the world to a halt. With over 471,794 positive cases and 21,297 deaths, COVID-19 outbreak has caused global panic. Italy, Iran, US happen to be the worst hit countries in addition to China, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.



As the phrase goes, the ‘streets are talking’ and rumour mills are running overtime. Several sceptics and tin foil hat bearers have been speculating and there are plenty of coronavirus conspiracy theories doing the rounds on the Internet.



Here are some of the most spine-chilling, eerie and scary conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19.

The coronavirus outbreak has brought the world to a halt. With over 471,794 positive cases and 21,297 deaths, COVID-19 outbreak has caused global panic. Italy, Iran, US happen to be the worst hit cou..
Read More

Ever since the news about the coronavirus was picked up by global media, speculations about the communist government of China trying to ‘cover-up’ the outbreak and hide the official figures were rife.

The fact that the Chinese Government tried to suppress the attempts of the whistleblowers (the insiders as well as eight doctors), who tried to warn the public of the pandemic, is rather alarming and didn’t help their cause.

While the rumours of the Chinese cover-up are unsubstantiated, once can only think about the popular proverb, ‘there’s no smoke, without fire’.

Ever since the news about the coronavirus was picked up by global media, speculations about the communist government of China trying to ‘cover-up’ the outbreak and hide the official figures were ri..
Read More

This theory, in all probability, is the scariest one and will send chills down your spine. Soon after the news of the outbreak broke, several users started pointing out that a passage from the 1981 book ‘The Eyes of Darkness’ by Dean Koontz eerily predicts the Coronavirus outbreak.

The photograph of the passage from the book went viral in no time and netizens couldn’t help but freak out because the resemblance was uncanny and the evidence was hard to dismiss.

To give you some background, the plot is based around a mother who attempts to find out what happened to her son after he mysteriously disappeared on a camping trip. It turns out that the boy is held in China – more specifically in Wuhan - the site of a deadly virus outbreak.

In the passage, a character named Dombey narrates an account of a virus called ‘Wuhan-400’ which was developed at the RDNA lab outside the city of Wuhan, and ‘ it was the four-hundredth viable strain of man-made microorganisms created at that research centre’.

The passage then gives intricate details about how the virus affects the human body. The chilling accuracy with which this 1981 book predicts the outbreak and the resemblance between ‘Wuhan-400’ and Coronavirus is eerie to say the least.

This theory, in all probability, is the scariest one and will send chills down your spine. Soon after the news of the outbreak broke, several users started pointing out that a passage from the 1981 b..
Read More

The Internet was brimming with conspiracies about the coronavirus, and, perhaps, one of the most prominent ones was that the virus could be a bioweapon. According to an ET Prime report, a group of Chinese scientists in Canada were accused of spying and were stripped of their access to Canada’s National Microbiology Lab (NML) which is known to work on some of the most deadly pathogens.

The alleged ‘policy breach’, highlighted the bioweapon program of other countries including China. Dr Francis Boyle, the creator of Bio Weapons Act, also claims that ‘the coronavirus is an offensive biological warfare weapon with DNA-genetic engineering’.

Again, the claims about coronavirus being a biological weapon are unsubstantiated.

Also Read: Is your beard putting you at risk of coronavirus?

The Internet was brimming with conspiracies about the coronavirus, and, perhaps, one of the most prominent ones was that the virus could be a bioweapon. According to an ET Prime report, a group of Ch..
Read More

Scientists haven’t been able to determine the origin of COVID-19 but speculations are rife that the virus originated in the seafood market. This was substantiated by reports from Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization which said that “most” cases had links to the seafood market, which was closed on 1 January.

Sceptics on the online forums, however, have been sharing suspicions that the virus could have originated from Wuhan, Institute of Virology, which houses China’s only level- four biosafety laboratory (the highest-level classification of labs that study the deadliest viruses).

The first prominent personality to come out publicly and support the theory was the US senator Tom Cotton who appeared on Fox News to allege that the virus could indeed have originated from the lab.

Several netizens have also been alleging that this was an attempt to control the Chinese population. However, the claims are unsubstantiated.


Scientists haven’t been able to determine the origin of COVID-19 but speculations are rife that the virus originated in the seafood market. This was substantiated by reports from Chinese health autho..
Read More
As conspiracy theories started spreading like wildfire on the Internet, several misguided rumours about the connection between 5G and coronavirus surfaced online. COVID-19, is believed to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China, in November. Coincidentally, China also turned on some of its 5G networks in November.

Rumours gained steam when Keri Hilson, popular American singer, with 4.2 million followers on Twitter, sent out tweets last week about the alleged connection between 5G and COVID-19, writing, "People have been trying to warn us about 5G for YEARS. Petitions, organizations, studies... what we're going through is the affects [sic] of radiation. 5G launched in CHINA. Nov 1, 2019. People dropped dead."

Several conspiracy theorists also alleged that the viral videos of people ‘dropping on the ground and fainting’ in China, were a result of 5G radio waves messing with the oxygen levels in blood of the general public.

Soon, a UK based fact checking website, FullFact, debunked the claims and argued that there is ‘no evidence that 5G is harmful to people’s health’.
As conspiracy theories started spreading like wildfire on the Internet, several misguided rumours about the connection between 5G and coronavirus surfaced online. COVID-19, is believed to have origin..
Read More

Sceptics are almost everywhere. When the news about coronavirus spread, several skeptics on social media started accusing the global media of creating unnecessary panic around the novel coronavirus.

Netizens all over the world started comparing the outbreak to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak which happened in 2003. Scientists argued that more contagious the virus, lesser is the mortality rate, which simply means that viruses which are highly contagious are less deadly.

The mortality rate for coronavirus as per a CIDRAP report is 2.3% while for SARS, it was a whopping 9.6%.

Is the media unnecessarily hyping up the pandemic? Or is the ‘2% mortality rate’ argument baseless?

Sceptics are almost everywhere. When the news about coronavirus spread, several skeptics on social media started accusing the global media of creating unnecessary panic around the novel coronavirus.N..
Read More

‘The Simpsons’ is popular for various reasons. It is, of course, the longest running primetime scripted series and has won several accolades too. But, the animated show is also known for predicting several major events around the world before they happened.

From allegedly predicting the 9/11 attacks to Donald Trump announcing his presidency, the show is almost like an embodiment of Nostradamus. However, soon after the coronavirus outbreak, allegations of the show predicting the pandemic surfaced.

A February 20 Facebook post appeared and showed stills from a 1993 episode of the show in which both Homer Simpson and Principal Skinner are sick; another image shows a broadcaster reading off a piece of paper while the words "corona virus" and a cat appears on a screen behind him.

However, it turns out that the images were altered. Three images were from an episode called ‘Osaka flu’ where a factory worker coughs into a package for Homer and he falls sick. The text behind the broadcaster in the fourth image however, does not say ‘corona virus’ but ‘apocalypse meow’.

‘The Simpsons’ is popular for various reasons. It is, of course, the longest running primetime scripted series and has won several accolades too. But, the animated show is also known for predicting s..
Read More

WHO's chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said in the report that agency staff members were trying to evaluate new scientific evidence as fast as possible, but without sacrificing the quality of their review. She said the UN health agency will try to broaden the committees' expertise and communications to make sure everyone is heard.

"We take it seriously when journalists or scientists or anyone challenges us and say we can do better than this. We definitely want to do better," she said.

As the pandemic spread across the world, a lag by the global health agency in issuing critical guidelines was seen as hampering efforts to control the outbreak.

It lagged behind most of its member nations in endorsing face coverings for the public. While many organisations, including The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long since acknowledged the importance of transmission by people without symptoms, the WHO still maintains that asymptomatic transmission is rare.

The NYT report says that many experts said the WHO should embrace what some called a "precautionary principle" and others called "needs and values" - the idea that even without definitive evidence, the agency should assume the worst of the virus, apply common sense and recommend the best protection possible.

"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.

"So at the moment we have to make a decision in the face of uncertainty, and my goodness, it's going to be a disastrous decision if we get it wrong. So why not just mask up for a few weeks, just in case?" she said.


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