The report was published in the medical journal The Lancet and features UC San Diego researchers, Robert Schooley and Kim Prather, among other scientists.
The researchers say that COVID-19 has spread so effectively because it passed primarily by small aerosol particles released through breathing and talking.
They say the aerosols are similar to secondhand smoke which fills a room and can stay there even after the infected person has left. But the aerosols are so small they can't be seen and people can't smell them.
“This is not a virus transmitted by droplets at close range,” said infectious disease expert Robert Schooley. “Or by touching things. It’s primarily transmitted when we breathe. If we breathe in air from someone who has the virus just breathed out, the virus gets into our lungs and the disease can start.”
These findings are contradictory to what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) say about how the virus spreads.
“They are quite a bit behind the science,” said Jose Jimenez, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Colorado. “And they need to update their recommendations because some of the things they are saying are not sufficient. The masks that people who are at high risk are wearing need to be improved.”
While they haven't been able to change COVID-19 guidance from the Biden Administration and the CDC, the authors hope publishing their findings in a major journal like The Lancet will encourage public health officials to update their advice.
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