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Article

Model Calculations of Aerosol Transmission and Infection Risk of COVID-19 in Indoor Environments

1
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, 55128 Mainz, Germany
2
The Cyprus Institute, Climate and Atmosphere Research Center, 2121 Nicosia, Cyprus
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 8114; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218114
Received: 18 October 2020 / Revised: 28 October 2020 / Accepted: 31 October 2020 / Published: 3 November 2020
The role of aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 viruses in airborne transmission of COVID-19 has been debated. The aerosols are transmitted through breathing and vocalization by infectious subjects. Some authors state that this represents the dominant route of spreading, while others dismiss the option. Here we present an adjustable algorithm to estimate the infection risk for different indoor environments, constrained by published data of human aerosol emissions, SARS-CoV-2 viral loads, infective dose and other parameters. We evaluate typical indoor settings such as an office, a classroom, choir practice, and a reception/party. Our results suggest that aerosols from highly infective subjects can effectively transmit COVID-19 in indoor environments. This “highly infective” category represents approximately 20% of the patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. We find that “super infective” subjects, representing the top 5–10% of subjects with a positive test, plus an unknown fraction of less—but still highly infective, high aerosol-emitting subjects—may cause COVID-19 clusters (>10 infections). In general, active room ventilation and the ubiquitous wearing of face masks (i.e., by all subjects) may reduce the individual infection risk by a factor of five to ten, similar to high-volume, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering. A particularly effective mitigation measure is the use of high-quality masks, which can drastically reduce the indoor infection risk through aerosols. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; infection risk; SARS-CoV-2 virus; airborne transmission; aerosol particles; indoor environment COVID-19; infection risk; SARS-CoV-2 virus; airborne transmission; aerosol particles; indoor environment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lelieveld, J.; Helleis, F.; Borrmann, S.; Cheng, Y.; Drewnick, F.; Haug, G.; Klimach, T.; Sciare, J.; Su, H.; Pöschl, U. Model Calculations of Aerosol Transmission and Infection Risk of COVID-19 in Indoor Environments. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218114

AMA Style

Lelieveld J, Helleis F, Borrmann S, Cheng Y, Drewnick F, Haug G, Klimach T, Sciare J, Su H, Pöschl U. Model Calculations of Aerosol Transmission and Infection Risk of COVID-19 in Indoor Environments. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(21):8114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218114

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lelieveld, Jos; Helleis, Frank; Borrmann, Stephan; Cheng, Yafang; Drewnick, Frank; Haug, Gerald; Klimach, Thomas; Sciare, Jean; Su, Hang; Pöschl, Ulrich. 2020. "Model Calculations of Aerosol Transmission and Infection Risk of COVID-19 in Indoor Environments" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 17, no. 21: 8114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218114

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