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COVID-19 News: Study Shows That Airborne Pollen Can Help Spread COVID-19 By Carrying SARS-CoV-2 Virus
COVID-19 News: Study Shows That Airborne Pollen Can Help Spread COVID-19 By Carrying SARS-CoV-2 Virus
Source: COVID-19 News  Jun 23, 2021  5 months ago
COVID-19 News: A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Nicosia-Cyprus has alarming shown that pollen particles can be a new infectious agent of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and help spread the COVID-19 disease.

The study investigates how airborne pollen pellets (or grains) can cause severe respiratory-related problems in humans. Given that pollen pellets can capture ribonucleic acid viruses, the research team showed that airborne pollen grains could transport airborne virus particles such as the airborne coronavirus (CoV) disease (COVID-19) or others.
 
The study team considered the environmental conditions featuring the highest pollen concentration season and conducted computational multiphysics, multiscale modeling and simulations. The investigation concerns a prototype problem comprising the transport of 104 airborne pollen grains dropped from a mature willow tree at a wind speed of (Uwind=4 km/h)(Uwind=4 km/h).
 
The team showed how pollen grains can increase the coronavirus (CoV) transmission rate in a group of people, including some infected persons. In the case of high pollen grains concentrations in the air or during pollination in the spring, the social distance of 2 m does not hold as a health safety measure for an outdoor crowd.
 
The team calls for public health authorities to revise the social distancing guidelines.
 
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed Journal Physics of Fluids. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/5.0055845
 
Typically the general understanding of viral infection focuses on how viral particles escaping one person to infect a nearby person. However, other infectious agents are also important to factor in including the role of the environment.
 
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists developed models to explain the high rate of COVID-19 infection, and found that viral particles are able to last for prolonged periods on surfaces, facilitating virus spread.
 
However this new research now shows a new environmental agent that has not been considered previously.
 
The study team investigated how pollen facilitates the spread of an RNA virus like the COVID-19 virus.
 
The team used computer model simulations to examine the role of microscopic particles in how viruses are transmitted.
 
Importantly the hypothesis was first developed as researchers observed a correlation between COVID-19 infection rates and the pollen concentration on the National Allergy Map.
 
Past studies have already shown that trees can output 1,500 pollen grains per cubic meter into the air on heavy days and that each pollen grain carries hundreds of virus particles at a time, but no one has yet to consider such infectious spread in crowded areas.
 
Co-author, Dr Dimitris Drikakis told Thailand Medical News, “To our knowledge, this is the first time we show through modeling and simulation how airborne pollen micrograins are transported in a light breeze, contributing to airborne virus transmission in crowds o utdoors."
 
The study team simulated all the pollen-producing parts of a computational willow tree in a public area of an outdoor gathering of roughly 10 or 100 people, some of them shedding COVID-19 particles, and subjected the people to 10,000 pollen grains.
 
The study models were then tuned for a typical spring day in the US in terms of temperature, wind speed, and humidity, which can all affect pollen transport.
 
The detailed simulations then showed that it took less than a minute for pollen grains to pass through the crowd surrounding the tree, which could spread the virus rapidly and readily, infecting new individuals even when socially distanced.
 
Alarmingly it was found that even when a 6-foot distance was maintained among individuals, it was not an adequate distance to limit the risk of disease spread in such an area with high pollen concentration in the air.
 
The study team therefore, advocate basing preventative measures such as distancing on seasonal factors to better manage infection risk. Adapting measures such as social distancing in areas known for high pollen concentrations during spring could therefore mitigate at least some risk of infection.
 
More detailed studies will refine the simulations including whether specific trees, areas, or viruses, are more or less likely to be transported.
 
Co-author Dr Talib Dbouk added, “One of the significant challenges is the re-creation of an utterly realistic environment of a mature willow tree. This included thousands of tree leaves and pollen grain particles, hundreds of stems, and a realistic gathering of a crowd of about 100 individuals at about 20 meters from the tree."
 
Despite the fact that this study first and foremost demonstrates a new form of COVID-19 transmission, the researchers also hope to spur further studies in the fluid dynamics of plants and the interaction between airborne pollen grains and the human respiratory system under different environmental conditions.
 
Nonetheless, this study is the first to show a new method of infection through airborne virus transmission and is particularly insightful when designing adaptive preventative measures for the current global pandemic.
 
For the latest COVID-19 News, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.

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Source : Thailand Medical news