Harvard Study Finds Risk of Getting Covid-19 on a Flight is Very Low

By Kurt Stolz on 27 October 2020
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The risk of getting Covid-19 during a flight is very low, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, provided passengers wear face masks and take other precautions.

The transmission risk is below that of other routine activities such as shopping in a grocery store or dining indoors at a restaurant, they said.

The report echoes a Department of Defense study conducted with United Airlines that also concluded that the risk of transmission on board an aircraft is very low.

The report found that “there has been little evidence to date of onboard disease transmission” since airlines began to mandate that all passengers wear masks and stepped up cleaning and disinfecting procedures, citing the millions of passenger hours flown since this has been the case.  It was funded by Airlines for America, an industry trade group representing major U.S. carriers.

In large part, the fact that modern aircraft are equipped with powerful ventilation systems that exchange cabin area every two to three minutes is largely to thank for the low numbers.  These systems are capable of removing more than 99% of particles of the size that transmit the coronavirus.

The risk of transmission during the pandemic can be “reduced to very low levels through the combination of layered infection control measures,” the researchers said.

While the study did conclude that flying is exceptionally safe, it did not address the risk of transmission at airports, where there are very great variances in air exchange and sanitation and disinfection procedures, as well as in various modes of transportation to and from an airport.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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