Many experts said the WHO should include what some called a “precautionary principle” and others called “needs and values” – the idea that even without definitive evidence, the agency should adopt the worst of the virus, apply common sense and recommend the best protection possible.
“There is no undeniable evidence that SARS-CoV-2 travels or transmits significantly with aerosols, but there is absolutely no evidence that it is not,” says Dr Trish Greenhalgh, a primary care physician at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
“So for the time being, we have to make a decision before uncertainty, and my goodness, it will be a disastrous decision if we make mistakes,”
After all, the WHO seems to be willing to accept the idea that the virus can be transmitted from surfaces without much evidence, she and other researchers pointed out, even when other health agencies have gone back and emphasized this path.
“I agree that the transmission of fomite is not directly shown for this virus,” Dr. Allegranzi, WHO’s technical leader in infection control, citing objects that may be contagious. “But it is well known that other coronaviruses and respiratory viruses are transmitted and found to be transmitted through contact with fomite.”
The agency must also take into account the needs of all its member states, including those with limited resources, and ensure that its recommendations are tempered by “accessibility, feasibility, compliance, resource implications,” she said.
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Aerosols can play a limited role in the spread of the virus, says Dr. Paul Hunter, member of the infection prevention committee and professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in the UK.