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Story at a glance:
  • On March 28, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) tweeted, “FACT: #COVID19 is NOT airborne.”
  • Aerosol scientist Lidia Morawska of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia said it was “so obvious” that airborne transmission was occurring, even in Feb. 2020.
  • Morawska and colleagues presented evidence of airborne transmission to the WHO in March 2020, including cases of people becoming infected when they were more than 1 meter from an infected person, and “years of mechanistic studies;” the advice was largely ignored.
  • Nearly two years after the pandemic began, on Dec. 23, 2021, the WHO finally acknowledged that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne.
  • The WHO getting it wrong about SARS-CoV-2’s airborne potential calls into question why it continues to be regarded as a global health authority.

It was March 28, 2020, when the WHO — the supposed global authority on infectious disease — tweeted, “FACT: #COVID19 is NOT airborne.”

The statement included a “fact check” box, authoritatively stating that information circulating on social media that COVID-19 is airborne was “incorrect” and “misinformation.”

“The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks,” the WHO wrote. “These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors or surfaces.”

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