The airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remains surprisingly controversial; indeed, health and regulatory authorities still require direct proof of this mode of transmission. To close this gap, we measured the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 of an infected subject in a hospital room (through an oral and nasopharyngeal swab), as well as the airborne SARS-CoV-2 concentration in the room resulting from the person breathing and speaking. Moreover, we simulated the same scenarios to estimate the concentration of RNA copies in the air through a novel theoretical approach and conducted a comparative analysis between experimental and theoretical results. Results showed that for an infected subject's viral load ranging between 2.4 × 106 and 5.5 × 106 RNA copies mL-1, the corresponding airborne SARS-CoV-2 concentration was below the minimum detection threshold when the person was breathing, and 16.1 (expanded uncertainty of 32.8) RNA copies m-3 when speaking. The application of the predictive approach provided concentrations metrologically compatible with the available experimental data (i.e. for speaking activity). Thus, the study presented significant evidence to close the gap in understanding airborne transmission, given that the airborne SARS-CoV-2 concentration was shown to be directly related to the SARS-CoV-2 emitted. Moreover, the theoretical analysis was shown to be able to quantitatively link the airborne concentration to the emission.

Link between SARS-CoV-2 emissions and airborne concentrations: Closing the gap in understanding

Buonanno G.;Ficco G.;Stabile L.
2022

Abstract

The airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remains surprisingly controversial; indeed, health and regulatory authorities still require direct proof of this mode of transmission. To close this gap, we measured the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 of an infected subject in a hospital room (through an oral and nasopharyngeal swab), as well as the airborne SARS-CoV-2 concentration in the room resulting from the person breathing and speaking. Moreover, we simulated the same scenarios to estimate the concentration of RNA copies in the air through a novel theoretical approach and conducted a comparative analysis between experimental and theoretical results. Results showed that for an infected subject's viral load ranging between 2.4 × 106 and 5.5 × 106 RNA copies mL-1, the corresponding airborne SARS-CoV-2 concentration was below the minimum detection threshold when the person was breathing, and 16.1 (expanded uncertainty of 32.8) RNA copies m-3 when speaking. The application of the predictive approach provided concentrations metrologically compatible with the available experimental data (i.e. for speaking activity). Thus, the study presented significant evidence to close the gap in understanding airborne transmission, given that the airborne SARS-CoV-2 concentration was shown to be directly related to the SARS-CoV-2 emitted. Moreover, the theoretical analysis was shown to be able to quantitatively link the airborne concentration to the emission.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11580/91061
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