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Home / Science / News /  ‘Covid-19 loses most of its ability to spread after...’: Study reveals when and how one can get infected
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In just 20 minutes, coronavirus loses 90% of its ability to infect after it is exposed to air. In fact, within the first five minutes, it loses most of its ability to cause infection, a new study revealed. It further, and further added, “Ventilation, though still worthwhile, is likely to have a lesser impact."

The study by the University of Bristol's Aerosol Research Centre was published in medRxiv and is yet to be peer-reviewed. 

When and how you can get infected?

“People have been focused on poorly ventilated spaces and thinking about airborne transmission over metres or across a room. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but I think still the greatest risk of exposure is when you’re close to someone," said Prof Jonathan Reid, director of the varsity and the study’s lead author, as quoted by Guardian. 

“When you move further away, not only is the aerosol diluted down, there’s also less infectious virus because the virus has lost infectivity as a result of time."

This means “if I’m meeting friends for lunch in a pub today, the primary [risk] is likely to be me transmitting it to my friends, or my friends transmitting it to me, rather than it being transmitted from someone on the other side of the room," said Reid. 

This highlights the importance of wearing a mask in situations where people cannot physically distance, he added.

How was the study conducted

To conduct the study, researchers developed apparatus that allowed them to generate any number of tiny, virus-containing particles and gently levitate them between two electric rings for anywhere between five seconds to 20 minutes.

It suggested that as the viral particles leave the relatively moist and carbon dioxide-rich conditions of the lungs, they rapidly lose water and dry out, while the transition to lower levels of carbon dioxide is associated with a rapid increase in pH. 

Because of these 2 factors, the virus loses its ability to infect. However, the speed at which it dries out depends on the level of humidity in the air.

“It means that if I’m meeting friends for lunch in a pub today, the primary [risk] is likely to be me transmitting it to my friends, or my friends transmitting it to me, rather than it being transmitted from someone on the other side of the room," said Reid. This highlights the importance of wearing a mask in situations where people cannot physically distance, he added.

 

 

 

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