Virologist explains why scientists accuse WHO of "underplaying" coronavirus risk

6 July 2020, 18:56 | Updated: 6 July 2020, 19:03

By Fiona Jones

Consultant virologist Dr Chris Smith explained why over 200 scientists have accused the World Health Organisation of "underplaying" the risk of airborne transmission of Covid-19.

Writing in an open letter, over 200 scientists from 32 countries are calling for the WHO to emphasise the role of airborne transmission so governments can implement appropriate control measures.

Consultant virologist Dr Chris Smith said this letter serves as a useful reminder that coronavirus is a respiratory infection initially of the nose, throat and lungs and "that's its main route of spread."

Dr Chris explained, "When we talk, cough, sneeze, breathe...we leave a vapour trail in our wake and that vapour trail comes from our lungs. There will be small droplets in there including some very small droplets which won't immediately sink to the floor and will remain airborne for a while.

"As we approach winter it may become more of an issue as people are going to be spending more time indoors."

The advantage of the scientists writing this open letter is that it reminds people the virus is not going away and it reignites media attention and airtime in time for winter.

"Nothing fundamentally has suddenly changed, we mustn't be complacent with this," he said.