The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant gaps in our understanding of how respiratory viruses propagate across hosts.
Previously considered to be transmitted mostly by big respiratory droplets produced by sick people’s coughs and sneezes, new data suggests that many respiratory infections, including SARS-CoV-2, are transmitted through virus-laden tiny respiratory aerosols.
Chia Wang and colleagues highlight new research on respiratory virus airborne transmission and how a better knowledge of aerosol transmission may allow for better-informed interventions to prevent and mitigate airborne transmission in this review.
Most respiratory infections were thought to spread by huge droplets spat by infected people or transferred from contaminated surfaces until recently. This knowledge has primarily influenced public health guidelines for preventing viral transmission. Several respiratory infections, such as influenza and the common cold, are known to spread by infectious respiratory aerosols, which may float and travel considerably further and for much longer in air flows, infecting people who inhale them.
Airborne transmission may be a more prevalent method of respiratory viral transmission than previously assumed, according to an increasing body of research, much of which was acquired through investigating the spread of COVID-19.