The risk of COVID-19 infection on flights is 'very low,' and 1 infected passenger would take 54 hours to spread the virus to others onboard, a US government study found
- Research commissioned by the US
Department of Defense(DOD) has found the risk of getting infected by airborne COVID-19 on flightsis "very low."
- Researchers measured the dilution of tracer particles on
Boeing767 or 777 aircraft, and found that the aircrafts' air filtration systems got rid of the particles within six minutes.
- If only one passenger is infected, it would take a flight of around 54 hours for others on board to get an infectious dose, the research found.
The air supply systems on commercial aircraft offer greater protection against COVID-19 than those in hospital operating rooms, research commissioned by the US Department of Defense (DOD) found.
The overall risk of exposure to COVID-19 on a flight is "very low," the research concluded — and "virtually nonexistent" if you wear a mask.If only one passenger on a Boeing 767 or 777 flight is infected, it would take a flight of around 54 hours for others onboard to get an infectious dose of the virus, researchers found.
However, researchers acknowledged that the test was limited because it was based on the flight having just one infected passenger, and didn't involve passengers moving around the cabin.The study was conducted over eight days in late August and carried out by Zeteo Tech, S3i, an agency of the DOD, and the University of Nebraska's National Strategic Research Institute, in partnership with Boeing and United Airlines.
More than 40 sensors throughout the aircraft measured the particle concentration over time. This was repeated 300 times.
The particles were rapidly diluted by the high air exchange rates on board and high-efficiency air filtration systems, the researchers found.On average, the tracer particles remained detectable within the cabin for less than six minutes. In a typical American home, this figure would be around 90 minutes, researchers said.
Researchers also tested surface samples from frequently touched areas, such as armrests and seat backs.
"The results showed an overall low exposure risk from aerosolized pathogens like COVID-19 on these aircraft," said Dee Mewbourne, deputy commander of USTRANSCOM.USTRANSCOM invested in the study to see if its COVID-19 safety measures are providing the safest possible means of transportation.
Currently, military members and families have to restrict their movements prior to a USTRANSCOM flight, wear a mask throughout, and quarantine upon arrival.However, USTRANSCOM noted that "even with these prevention methods, a small number of travelers arrive at their destination testing positive for the virus."
"There has been little clear evidence to date if the infections were contracted while aboard flights," it added.
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