Airborne dispersion of droplets during coughing: a physical model of viral transmission.Sci Rep. 2021 02 25; 11(1):4617.SR
The Covid-19 pandemic has focused attention on airborne transmission of viruses. Using realistic air flow simulation, we model droplet dispersion from coughing and study the transmission risk related to SARS-CoV-2. Although this model defines most airborne droplets as 8-16 µm in diameter, we infer that larger droplets of 32-40 µm in diameter may potentially be more infectious due to higher viral content. Use of face masks is therefore recommended for both personal and social protection. We found social distancing effective at reducing transmission potential across all droplet sizes. However, the presence of a human body 1 m away modifies the aerodynamics so that downstream droplet dispersion is enhanced, which has implications on safe distancing in queues. At 1 m distance, we found that an average of 0.55 viral copies is inhaled for a cough at median loading, scalable up to 340 copies at peak loading. Droplet evaporation results in significant reduction in droplet counts, but airborne transmission remains possible even under low humidity conditions.