On Wednesday 25 March, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine hosted a live Q&A on the coronavirus pandemic with two of LSHTM’s leading experts in the field: Professor Heidi Larson and Professor Jimmy Whitworth.
Questions posed to the experts included ‘Can you be reinfected with COVID-19?’, ‘How do factors like dementia and diabetes play into a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19?’ and ‘What is the science behind treating COVID-19 with anti-malarial drugs?’.
One of the key questions that was raised during the Q&A related to whether COVID-19 was airborne and whether it can linger in dust. Professor Whitworth replied:
“There have been some studies which have been done and have reported recently which are looking at this. It looks as though the main mode of transmission is through droplet spread or on to contaminated surfaces which people then touch, and then they put their hands to their mouths or their eyes and get infected that way. That seems to be the main way in which it spreads. And there’s evidence suggesting that from contaminated surfaces, the virus can survive on some forms of contaminated surfaces for several days, actually. So this whole question about cleaning surfaces, using hand gel, or washing your hands frequently is really, really important to stop yourself from getting infected.”
In her final summing up, Professor Larson commented on the importance of using reliable sources for information about COVID-19:
“I would urge people to be really careful about believing what they read until it has some basis to it. There are a lot of things circulating that are not true – or are possibilities – that we have to be careful about. Please read them with caution. WHO, CDC, National Health institutes – look at institutional sites that have confirmed scientific evidence.”