A clash among medical experts has started with the emergence of the novel coronavirus pandemic which dates back nearly a century when the germ theory was formulated.
Earlier this week, the Geneva-based World Health Organization confirmed that the germs of the novel coronavirus can spread through tiny droplets floating in the air which confirmed claims by more than 200 experts in aerosol science who had written an open letter to the WHO and alleged that the organization had not warned the public about this risk.
However, demands for collecting of more definitive proof that the Cvoid-19 causing novel coronavirus can indeed by transmitted through the air is being made by the WHO. The spreading of the virus in the air will make this disease at par with the likes of measles and tuberculosis and would demand even more strict measures to stop the spread of the virus among people.
“WHO’s slow motion on this issue is unfortunately slowing the control of the pandemic,” said Jose Jimenez, a University of Colorado chemist who was a part of the group of scientists who had signed the letter to the WHO urging it to change its guidance on prevention of Covid-19. .
The WHO is being stubborn to hold on to its previous notion that the germs of Cvoid-19 are mainly spread via contact with a contaminated person or object, Jimenez and other experts in aerosol transmission have said. That concept formed the basis of modern medicine which completely rejected the obsolete miasma theory, that was formed in the Middle Ages, that suggested that diseases such as cholera and the Black Death are caused by poisonous, foul-smelling vapors that are caused by decaying matter.
“It’s part of the culture of medicine from the early 20th century. To accept something was airborne requires this very high level of proof,” said Dr. Donald Milton, a University of Maryland aerobiologist and a lead author of the open letter.
The signatories of the letter to the WHO said that such evidence could involve research in which animals in a laboratory become sickened when they were exposed to the virus in the air or studies that show the presence of virus particles in air samples. Such proof is however not required for other modes of transmission such as contact with contaminated surfaces.
Such extensive and definitive proof is however required by the WHO because it advises countries of every income and resource level about taking more measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic that had so far caused death of more than 550,000 people globally while more than 12 million have been infected with the disease.
“It would affect our entire way of life. And that’s why it’s a very important question,” said Dr. John Conly, a University of Calgary infectious disease expert who is part of the WHO’s group of experts advising on coronavirus guidelines.
Proof that viable virus particles floating in the air have so far not been shown in studies, Conly said. “In my mind, I want to see evidence in those fine mists,” Conly said.
Calls for more research on coronavirus aerosol transmission was made in the latest guidance document of the Who, claiming that air transmission of the virus “has not been demonstrated” in studies.
There would have already been many more infections of Covid-19 if the virus were truly airborne like measles, stressed Conly and others. “Would we not be seeing, like, literally billions of cases globally? That’s not the case,” Conly said.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)