- The novel coronavirus can spread via droplets, aerosols, and fomites. Face masks can help reduce transmission in all of those instances.
- A popular YouTube channel created a simple experiment that proves how many particles a person ejects when talking, and Dr. Anthony Fauci has now reacted to the findings.
- Droplets and aerosol transmission are what makes the virus so dangerous if face masks and social distancing guidelines aren’t observed, and this scary experiment proves that it’s all happening in front of us but is invisible to the naked eye.
The novel coronavirus spreads in three ways, but they all involve the same basic principle. Viral particles need to reach the nose, the mouth, or the eyes, at which point they might be able to hook up to cells to start replicating. Droplet, aerosol, and fomite transmission are all possible with COVID-19, with agencies including the WHO and CDC stressing the first one. Fomites refer to touching surfaces that might be contaminated to get infected. Meanwhile, droplets and aerosols are essentially the same things. They’re tiny particles invisible to the naked eye that can contain water or not. The bigger saliva droplets are heavier, and gravity draws them to the ground faster than aerosols, which can linger in the air for a longer amount of time and travel distances greater than 6 feet. By blocking ingress via the nose and mouse, face masks can prevent droplets, aerosols, and even fomite transmission.
A new video shot in slow motion shows exactly how dangerous droplets and aerosols truly are. It’s identical to videos that appeared several months ago, warning of the danger of airborne transmission and the importance of wearing face masks and other coverings that can protect the person wearing the mask as well as those around them. What’s different about this high-tech demonstration is that Dr. Anthony Fauci has commented on the results.
Droplets and aerosols are ejected from the mouth even while a person is talking, not just when sneezing and coughing. We’d normally ignore them, as they wouldn’t be dangerous to one’s health. Droplets and aerosols spread the common cold, flu, and other viruses, not just the novel coronavirus. But we’re all “trained” to treat those conditions.
The YouTubers over at The Slow Mo Guys set out to create visuals that illustrate exactly how the virus can spread via droplets and aerosols with and without a mask. Using a dark room and a backlight, the YouTubers shot 4K footage at 1,000 frames per second to slow down the speed of particles emitted from the mouth.
They analyzed coughs and sneezes, but also regular talking. For the talking part, they used a mask and recreated the experiment. The conclusions are exactly what you’d expect from these experiments. Humans eject plenty of invisible particles out of our mouths, and it looks disgusting. We don’t see them in regular life because they’re so small. But those particles, especially the aerosols that take longer to settle down, are what can spread the virus in indoor and even sometimes outdoor settings.
Fauci was a guest on the show, and he commented on this simple experiment that anyone could perform, as long as they have access to the right equipment.
“I think what you’ve just shown is a — you know — graphically beautiful demonstration of the importance of wearing masks and face coverings,” the health expert said. “Because, as the film shows now, you’re saying the same thing, ‘One, two, three, four,’ and very little is coming out from the masks,” Fauci added, referring to the part of the experiment where the subject’s face was covered by a cloth face mask. As Fauci notes, there are still some particles that can escape the mask, but the quantity is significantly reduced. Face masks do not provide 100% protection, and infection is still possible. That’s why other health measures are advised alongside masks. Social distancing is one of them, and it should be employed at the same time with masks.
Remember though, that there’s an added layer of protection when everyone wears a mask — particles that escape through an infected person’s mask can still be blocked by your mask. This is especially true if you’re wearing a high-quality face mask like an N95 or KN95 mask.
“We say, and I think graphic demonstrations like you’ve just shown really solidify that, one of the reasons why it’s so important to wear a face-covering is that we know now that about 40% to 45% of the people who are infected don’t have any symptoms,” Fauci continued. “And yet, they have virus in their nasopharynx. And we know that a substantial proportion of infections are transmitted from someone who doesn’t have any symptoms. So people have an understandable but incorrect interpretation that the only time you transmit infection is when you’re coughing and sneezing all over someone. What they don’t appreciate is that if you are speaking, even if you don’t speak loudly, and if you are singing, which is even worse than just speaking, you have these particles that come out that can stay in the air for a period of time. Some of them drop to the ground, which is the reason why we say ‘Keep 6 feet of distance!’ But some of them are aerosolized and can hang around the air for a period of time.”
“For that reason, it’s so important to wear face coverings,” Fauci noted, even in situations where people aren’t coughing or sneezing around you. Later in the interview, Fauci explains why the virus is so dangerous and what vaccine requirements must be met to control the pandemic. The full clip follows below:
Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he’s not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.