The transmission of the coronavirus through aerosols, small droplets that we emit just by breathing and that can remain floating in the air, was clearly incorporated by the World Health Organization (WHO), a demand of specialists from around the world who for months have argued that it is the main route of infection.
The update, which was made on April 30 and is currently only available on the English page (https://www.who.int/news-room/qa-detail/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-how -is-it-transmitted), pointed out that “we know that the disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which spreads between people in different ways,” says Página12.
Among these forms, the WHO described: “The virus can be spread from the mouth or nose of an infected person in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols ”.
“Current evidence suggests that the virus spreads primarily between people who are in close contact with each other, usually within 1 meter (short range). A person can become infected when they inhale aerosols or droplets that contain the virus or they come in direct contact with the eyes, the nose or the mouth ”, indicated.
He added: “The virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and / or crowded indoor environments, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because the aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel more than 1 meter (long range) ”.
Finally, the document recalled that "people can also become infected by touching surfaces that have been contaminated by the virus by touching their eyes, nose or mouth without washing their hands."
"It is the first time that the WHO has stated clearly and in a public access document the role of aerosols in contagion, in such a way that there is no room for confusion," said the Spanish researcher José Luis Jiménez, one of the top world references on the subject.
So far, the WHO had only recognized the possibility of transmission by “aerosols” 'but it did not make clear the importance that these had in the proximity and continued saying that the contagion was because the droplets fell on “eye, nose or mouth”.
In addition, it reduced the contagion by aerosols to "specific environments, especially in indoor, crowded and poorly ventilated spaces" in which infected people "spend a lot of time with others, for example restaurants, choir practices, gymnastics classes, nightclubs, offices and / or places of worship ”.
“On March 28 of last year, the WHO had said directly that the virus was not going through the air and that saying this was misinforming. This reached everyone and they never came out with the same firmness to recant; it appeared in some document, they said that ventilation was important but they didn't explain why, ”said Jiménez, a professor at the University of Colorado, United States.
Although it seems a subtle difference, the fact that the WHO clearly accepts that the coronavirus is spread in this way has consequences in the forms of prevention and care to reduce the risk of contagion.
“An example of the impact that the message arrives clearly: in February I was speaking with a secretariat of Education of a Latin American country in the face of the beginning of classes that informed me about the protocol of the presence and the care was focused on cleaning the the surfaces and did not have any ventilation or carbon dioxide measurement ”, Jiménez described.
And he added: "And this was a problem that crossed the whole world, millions were spent on disinfectants and ventilation and distance were downplayed, and explaining why this was done."
In July 2020, Jiménez was one of the 239 scientists who asked with a letter to the WHO to recognize the predominant role that aerosols play in the pandemic.
"Now with this update there are no longer any doubts, so if they do not ventilate in a school, or in a workplace, there is a clear tool to demand it," he concluded.
Jiménez recalled that "saying that the coronavirus is spread through the air is not a ghostly definition, it does not mean that the virus is going to travel for miles and is going to come to infect."
“It means,” he continued, “that it comes out of infected people as invisible smoke that can contain the virus with the ability to infect. That smoke is respiratory aerosols, they are very small, invisible particles that remain floating in the air and that another person can inspire in two situations: when you are very close (especially when both are without a mask) or when you share the air in a closed room, because the closed space traps the air that person is exhaling ”.
Solidarity is needed to guarantee access to vaccines
The WHO chief on Monday asked the richest countries, gathered in the G7, to pay most of the billions of dollars that are missing to guarantee equitable access to vaccines or else see the persistence of the pandemic. .
The ACT (instrument to combat covid) “faces a financing gap of 19.000 million dollars (of the 22.000 that are needed this year), and we consider that we will need between 35.000 and 45.000 million additional dollars next year to vaccinate the majority of adults in the world ”, warned Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"The G7 countries could mobilize a substantial part of the funds and lead global efforts to accelerate vaccination in the world," added the director of the World Health Organization.
A year ago a collective initiative was launched to try to level the inequalities of access to vaccines, medicines and other health equipment in the fight against Covid-19, known by the acronym ACT.
The Covax system, which is sourced primarily from AstraZeneca vaccines, is stagnant, delivering only 49 million doses in 121 countries and territories, up from a target of 2.000 billion in 2021.