WHO changes definition of airborne disease following COVID-19 debates

The World Health Organization has defined a new set of criteria for infectious diseases spread through the air following significant controversy and confusion during the pandemic about how the coronavirus was spread.

Nearly 500 experts, including epidemiologists, physicists, engineers, and public health professionals, contributed to a report published Thursday that provides a concrete breakdown of how pathogens traditionally considered “airborne” can be transmitted.

“It’s a pretty important statement of agreement to work together,” WHO’s chief scientist Jeremy Farrar told the New York Times.

Previous guidance from the WHO asserted that only a handful of pathogens with particle sizes small enough to spread across long distances could be considered airborne. The new guidance, however, suggests that other criteria, such as the speed of expulsion and
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