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Study shows Covid variants getting better at travelling through air

Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A study conducted by researchers of the University of Maryland shows that the SARS-CoV-2, responsible for causing Covid-19, is becoming better at becoming airborne with the emergence of new variants. This has been found in a study led by the University of Maryland School of Public Health and was released last September. The study is titled as ‘Infectious SARS-CoV-2 in Exhaled Aerosols and Efficacy of Masks During Early Mild Infection’ and was published in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The researchers said that public health measures will have to be implemented further for those who have to meet people and also for those working indoors. Vaccines along with improved ventilation, increased filtration, UV air sanitation and tighter-fitting masks were suggested in the study in order to prevent further infection.

The study was conducted when the Alpha strain was more dominant and it showed that people infected with the Alpha variant emitted 43 to 100 times more virus into the air when they breathed than people infected with the original strain of the virus.

“The Delta variant circulating now is far more contagious than the Alpha variant. The research indicates that the variants keep getting better at travelling through the air, so we must provide better ventilation and wear tight-fitting masks, in addition to vaccination, to help stop spread of the virus,” Don Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland, said in a press release.

The study highlights that one of the main tenets of protection against Covid-19 is prevention against the disease – masks as masks have ‘significantly reduced’ the spread of Covid-19. Researchers said that the amount of virus spread by infected Covid-19 patients was reduced by 50% when face coverings were used. Jennifer German, the study co-author and assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland said that Covid-19 is getting better at spreading through exhaled breath and masks can help by reducing this spread significantly.

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