Scientists say the WHO is missing the mark on devices and practices that can slow the spread of the coronavirus

Local News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The World Health Organization is revising its guidelines on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in crowded, closed, and poorly-ventilated settings.

239 experts from around the world sent an open letter to the WHO which said the medical community has failed to recognize the potential for inhalation exposure to the deadly virus in microscopic droplets that float in the air. Research shows those droplets can travel the length of a room and remain deadly for up to three hours.

Experts are recommending the use of devices such as the Air Scrubber, which has been around for 20 years. About 24 hours after it is installed, the device can kill germs floating around businesses, schools, and homes.

Blake Vasti, a comfort consultant at Norfolk Air — a WAVY-TV 10 Expert On Your Side — explained how it works.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“It sits inside of your duct stream, and what it does through specialized light streams — it creates scrubbing particles comprised of oxygen and hydrogen molecules. They go out throughout your airstream — cleaning the ductwork as well as the air that you breathe. The air scrubber actually kills surface-borne bacteria. It previously killed H1N1, staff MRSA, 24 hours after exposure. It significantly reduces surface borne bacteria,” said Vasti.

The cost is about $1,200 for one unit. For a free alternative, experts say open your doors and windows to increase airflow.

(Photo courtesy: Virginia Tech)

Dr. Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert from Virginia Tech, is a signatory on the open letter to WHO.

She wrote: “Public health agencies around the world take their cues from WHO and hopefully this [new recommendation] will lead to a greater emphasis on wearing of face coverings and avoiding the three Cs: close contact, closed and poorly ventilated spaces, and crowds. These measures will help slow the pandemic and save lives.”

On Thursday the WHO revised its guidelines on virus transmission but stopped short of confirming the virus travels through the air. The organization said more research is urgently needed to assess cases of suspected aerosol transmission.

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