We summarized several of the key talks from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine virtual workshop.
There is much we don’t know about the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. We know it can spread from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. But what do we know about transmission via speech and exhaled breath? How long do infectious particles linger in the air? How far can they travel? This Environmental Health Matters Initiative (EHMI) workshop will delve into the rapidly evolving science on the spread of the virus, as part of a larger body of COVID-19 related work at the National Academies. We will feature experts in aerosol science, virology, infectious disease, and epidemiology.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will organize a workshop to clarify the state of science when it comes to air as a medium for SARS-CoV-2 exposure and transmission. The purpose is to inform interdiction and mitigation measures, as well as highlight key uncertainties that need to be addressed. Questions to consider may include:
- Particles vs. aerosols: What influences exposure to respiratory viruses and SARS-CoV-2 in particular?
- What do we know about transmission outside the host?
- How is consideration of COVID-19 coronavirus transmission as either particulate matter or airborne droplets supported by the science? What are the implications that virus transmission could represent a continuum between particulate matter and airborne droplets?
- How does understanding of air as a medium for SARS-CoV-2 impact commonly held assumptions and decision making?
Introductory talk by Gregoy H. Symmes, Chief Program Officer for the National Academies. The Academies are said to 1) Provide independent, trustworthy advice; 2) Facilitate solutions to complex challenges; 3) Mobilize expertise, practice, and knowledge in science, engineering and medicine.
Goal of this workship is to bring more clarity to the state of science on airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The focus is on science first, though it is anticipate there will likely be policy implications. Includes experts across a range of disciplines including aerosol an atmospheric science, virology, infectious diseases, and epidemiology.
The conference is a part of the Academies' overall strategy to rapidly respond to emerging scientific data. Looking for:
Actionable science to inform immediate decisions related to crisis
"Irreplaceable" science to enable learning from unique/ephemeral circumstances of pandemic
Strategic science to understand the range of possible consequences; identify interventions to lead to a robust and resilient recovery
The possibility of bioaerosol spread of SARS-CoV-2 was established in April 2020 was established by the recent Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.
Environmental Health Matters Inititiative (EHMI) is the host of the workshop. They were launched in 2019 as a pilot approach to deal with complex issues, to do the following:
Addresses complex environmental health challenges
Convenes experts from wide array of disciplines, sectors
Leverages National Academies breadth & depth
Provides rapid expert input
Table of Contents: Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2. All Workshop Talks Overview
See the key FAQ pages provided by a team of scientists on COVID-19 transmission and preventive approaches: