Woman coughing

Examines the survival of Covid-19 in air

​When a person infected with Covid-19 coughs, sneezes or talks small particles flow out that can infect a new individual. Researchers at Chalmers will now investigate how long these particles survive outside the body under different environmental conditions.
​The current recommendations and understanding of the transmission in respiratory infectious diseases are based on a simple model developed ninety years ago to understand the transmission of tuberculosis. 

“I hope that our study can lead to more up-to-date guidelines that can be used by policymakers to more effectively slow down the diffusion of Covid-19 and future respiratory infections” says Gaetano Sardina, assistant professor in Fluid mechanics at Chalmers University of Technology. 

The results of the project could, for example, lead to more secure assumptions about the distance that should be kept between individuals, as well as regulations and proposals for humidity in public environments that accelerate the evaporation of the pathogen-bearing droplets. Hopefully, the research can also improve the current epidemiological mathematical models targeting in estimating the diffusion of the pandemic. 

Longevity is affected by the surrounding environment​

In the project, the researchers will study how the lifetime of pathogen-bearing droplets is affected by whether the person sneezes, coughs, talks or breathes, droplet size and various environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature and air turbulence. The study will use detailed, high-resolution numerical simulations and a new stochastic method to calculate a random drip path. 

“From a scientific point of view, we know quite a lot about the spread of the virus, but there is a lack of detailed knowledge about the mechanisms that cause the respiratory droplets from a sick person to reach other individuals. The goal of the study is to close that knowledge gap” says Gaetano Sardina. 

The project is funded with computational time from the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe and funds from the Swedish Research Council and Chalmers Area of Advance Information and Communication Technology.

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Published: Fri 07 Aug 2020.