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Princess Diamond Board, a Case Study on Aerosol Transmission



“We are making surprises all the way,” said Dr. Conly. “I find this work interesting, but there is a long way to go to reach a line of credibility, in my mind.”

Dr. George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, was just as skeptical. He said that outside the hospital, “the big points in my mind make up the vast majority of cases. Aerosol transmission – if you are really dealing with it, it creates a lot of dissonance. Are there situations when this can happen? “Yes, but it is a small amount.”

Dr. Tang and other scientists strongly disagree. “If I̵

7;m talking to an infectious person for 15 or 20 minutes and inhaling a little of their air,” said Dr. Tang, “is not a much simpler way to explain the transmission than touching an infected surface and touching your eyes? When you are talking about an explosion, like in a restaurant, the latter seems like a torturous way to explain the transmission. “

In the new analysis, a team led by Parham Azimi, an indoor air researcher at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health, studied the explosion at Princess Diamond, where physical spaces and infections were well documented. He conducted more than 20,000 simulations of how the virus could have spread across the spacecraft. Each simulation made a variety of assumptions, about factors such as patterns of social interaction – how much time people spent in their cabins, on deck or in the bar, on average – and the amount of time the virus could live on the surface. Each is also factorized into different contributions of small, floating points, broadly defined as 10 microns or less; and larger droplets, which fall faster and infect surfaces or other people, lowering the eyes, mouth, or nose, they say.

About 130 of these simulations reproduced, to some extent, what actually happened to Princess Diamonds as the explosion progressed. By analyzing these more “realistic” scenarios, the research team calculates the most likely contributions of each transmission path. The researchers concluded that the smallest points prevailed and accounted for about 60 percent of new infections above all, both at close range, within a few yards of an infectious person, and at greater distances.

“A lot of people have argued that airborne transmission is happening, but no one had numbers for it,” said Dr. Azimi. “What is the contribution from these small points – is it 5 percent, or 90 percent? In this paper, we give the first true estimates of what that number might be, at least in the case of this cruise ship.”

The logic behind such a broadcast is simple, experts said. When a person speaks, he or she emits a cloud of dots, most of which are small enough to stay suspended in the air for minutes or longer. Through suffocation, that cloud of small droplets is more likely to reach a mucosa than the larger one that grows ballistically.


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