Can coronavirus spread to eight meters?


A distance of two meters does not guarantee that a person will not become infected with COVID-19. When a patient coughs and sneezes, viral particles can be transported up to eight meters away. This conclusion was made in a scientific article published by Lydia Bourouiba of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researcher has been studying the dynamics of strong reflex exhalations for many years, that is, coughing and sneezing.

In her article, she draws attention to the fact that current recommendations on social distance and requirements for medical masks are based on a model created back in the 1930s. According to the expert, there is a need to take into account new data.

So, the peak air speed during coughing and sneezing can reach 10-30 meters per second. The scientist points out that modern masks are simply not tested in such modes.

“There is an urgent need to revise the guidelines currently being proposed by WHO and the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Ed.) Regarding protective equipment requirements, especially for healthcare workers who are at the forefront of the fight against infection “, – says the scientist in the material USA Today.

Questions about the effectiveness of masks and especially sneezing into the elbow – that’s not all. The researcher doubts that the safe distance to the infected person is only two meters. Indeed, according to new calculations, the virus, when coughing and sneezing, can travel up to eight meters.

It is generally accepted that only relatively large drops of saliva and nasal mucus pose a danger. Earth’s gravity prevents them from flying more than two meters. Hence the distance recommended during quarantine. But the expert believes that neglecting smaller drops is dangerous, since the virus will spread with them.

I disagree with a colleague Paul Pottinger (Paul Pottinger) from the University of Washington. In his opinion, small droplets carry too few viral particles to be infected. The expert believes that if the distance of 2-7 meters was really dangerous, now there would be no doubt about that.

“Everyone would know that this is true, because everyone would be infected,” says the specialist.


In the meantime, scientists argue about the safe distance and effectiveness of the masks, it is best to stay at home and not try to test the researchers’ models on themselves.

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