KEY POINTS

  • Dr. Fauci stated that he was disturbed by a study about the distance that droplets can travel
  • The said study highlighted that the droplets can travel up to 27 feet
  • Dr. Fauci said that the chance of this occurring is not practical

Early this week, MIT associate professor and fluid dynamics expert, Dr. Lydia Bourouiba, Ph.D., revealed that coronavirus droplets are capable of traveling up to 27 feet. Such a revelation could have major implications on social distancing measures. The findings of her research were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to Dr. Bourouiba, coughs, sneezes, and exhalations does not consist only of muco-salivary droplets that follow short-range semi-ballistic emission trajectories. She said they are mainly composed of a multi-phase turbulent gas cloud that sweeps ambient air along in its flow. Such can trap and carry within it droplet clusters with a range of droplet sizes. Her findings were regarded by Dr. Fauci as misleading.

Ambiguous Findings

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he is disturbed by a report elaborating on the findings of Dr. Bourouiba because, for him, it is misleading. Dr. Fauci said this in reaction to the jarring headlines, which stemmed from the research of Dr. Lydia Bourouiba, and shocked the nation on Tuesday. Dr. Fauci is a member of the task force assembled by President Donald Trump to deal with the unfolding coronavirus crisis. Fauci debunks research on 27 feet distance covered by coronavirus droplets Fauci debunks research on 27 feet distance covered by coronavirus droplets Photo: mohamed_hassan - Pixabay

A director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Fauci, advised everyone during a White House briefing on Tuesday to read the study with caution. He said that the report could be terribly misleading, adding that the findings may be referring only to people who can sneeze with extreme strength.

The Research

According to Dr. Bourouiba, because of the forward momentum of the gas cloud, coronavirus-bearing droplets may be propelled at a greater distance as compared to being emitted in isolation. Given a range of the physiology of a patient and environmental conditions like temperature and humidity, the gas cloud and contaminated droplet payload can travel from 23 to 27 feet.

Dr. Bourouiba said that based on her findings, the current social distancing guidelines of staying 2 meters or six feet apart are not adequate. She said that staying within this distance increases the risk of a person contracting the virus from an infected individual in case the latter sneezes.

A Forceful Sneeze

The president’s infectious disease expert, however, said that it would take a very robust and vigorous sneeze for droplets to even come close to the distance stated by the research. Dr. Fauci even pretended to give out a forceful sneeze as he talked on stage to show everyone an example of what it takes to send the droplets that far.

As the respected doctor leaned back then suddenly thrust forward, he said: “so if you go way back and go, achoo, you might achieve 27 feet.” Dr. Fauci then added that the chances of it occurring is not practical.