How researchers' understanding of airborne COVID-19 transmission has evolved: A timeline of key studies, reports

Since March, researchers worldwide have published several studies exploring how the new coronavirus interacts with the air. These findings have evolved as the world continues to learn more about the new virus.

Here are six studies and reports covered by Becker's Hospital Review about airborne transmission of the new coronavirus:

March 4: An early study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that the new coronavirus may not linger in the air, but does contaminate hospital environments and surfaces.

March 17: Later that month, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the new virus can remain infectious in the air for up to three hours and last on some surfaces for more than a day.

April 27: Another study from China published in the journal Nature found that the new virus can potentially be spread via fine airborne particles and may linger in patient bathrooms, medical staff areas and areas prone to crowding, though it did not establish how infectious the virus detected in these hospital areas were.

July 6: More than 200 scientists wrote an open letter to the World Health Organization stating that airborne spread indoors could be a significant mode of COVID-19 transmission and that evidence shows the virus lingers in the air in indoor spaces.

July 7: Following the letter's publication, WHO officials acknowledged "emerging evidence" about the airborne spread of COVID-19.

July 9: WHO officials officially acknowledged that droplets carrying the new coronavirus may be airborne indoors and that people who spend long periods in crowded settings with poor ventilation may be at risk of becoming infected.


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