Ventilated Classrooms Are Critical To Protecting Our Children From Covid Infection

The death of hundreds of children from Covid-19 in Indonesia in recent weeks should serve as yet another dire warning that children are at risk of severe illness and death from new variants. More than 800 children in Indonesia have died from the virus since the pandemic began, but the large majority of those deaths have occurred in the last month as Indonesia has become the new epicenter of the pandemic. More than 150 children died from Covid-19 during the week of July 12.

The Delta variant is largely responsible for rising cases (particularly in unvaccinated populations) across the world including a steep incline in the US. The variant is highly contagious and a recent study from China shows that those infected with the Delta strain can carry up to 1,000 times more virus in their nasal passages. It is in this high-risk environment that we are sending our children back to classrooms, unvaccinated and highly vulnerable. Yet there is one critical action we can take to protect our children as they return to school; well-ventilated indoor spaces.

The body of scientific evidence pointing to airborne transmission as the main route by which SARS-CoV-2 spreads is now overwhelming. In outbreaks and super spreader events, there are often three common elements; an indoor space, an absence of masks, and a low level of ventilation. We need to re-evaluate the perspective that the spread of airborne pathogens in indoor spaces (whether they cause the common cold or Covid-19) should be considered to be an inevitable part of daily life. Aerosol scientists and researchers have long advocated for this, but a lack of research into and long-held misunderstandings about airborne transmission of pathogens has contributed to a lack of recognition for this important issue.

For decades, governments worldwide have invested heavily in food safety, sanitation, and drinking water quality for public health purposes. Food and waterborne disease have largely been eliminated in developed countries, due to a combination of research, legislation, the development of authoritative bodies, and infrastructure funding. It is time we give the same priority to achieving clean, pathogen-free air in buildings and indoor public spaces.

Read the full article on Forbes here 

Originally published on Forbes on July 29, 2021

 

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.