Many experts said WHO should adopt what some call a “precautionary principle” and others “needs and values” – the idea that even without definitive evidence, the agency should assume the worst of the virus , apply common sense and recommend the best protection possible.
“There is no compelling evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is displaced or transmitted significantly by aerosols, but there is absolutely no evidence that this is not the case,” said the Dr Trish Greenhalgh, a primary care physician at the University of Oxford in Great Britain.
“So for the moment, we have to make a decision in the face of uncertainty, and my God, it will be a disastrous decision if we make a mistake,” she said. “So why don’t you just hide yourself for a few weeks, just in case?”
After all, WHO seems ready to accept without much evidence the idea that the virus can be transmitted by surfaces, she noted, as did other researchers, while other health agencies have stepped back by focusing on this path.
“I agree that the transmission of fomite is not directly demonstrated for this virus,” said Dr Allegranzi, WHO technical manager for infection control, referring to objects that can be infectious. “But it is well known that other coronaviruses and respiratory viruses are transmitted and have demonstrated their transmission by contact with fomite.”
The agency must also take into account the needs of all of its member countries, including those with limited resources, and ensure that its recommendations are tempered by “availability, feasibility, compliance, resource implications She said.
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Aerosols may play a limited role in the spread of the virus, said Dr. Paul Hunter, member of the infection prevention committee and professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in Britain.