Eating out at restaurants/cafes and grocery shopping poses far more risk of contracting the novel coronavirus than air travel, a recent study has revealed. The study, titled: ‘Aviation Public Health Initiative’, published by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health suggests that travelling by flight is much safer than a lot of other activities if all COVID-19 protocols are adhered to.The Harvard study aims to establish the importance of COVID-19 protocols and various non-pharmaceutical measures such as wearing face masks, cleaning hands, etc, in mitigating the risk of contracting the deadly infection.
According to the study, if all health guidelines issued are followed properly, it “reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard aircraft below that of other routine activities during the pandemic such as grocery shopping or eating out.”
This means the findings hold true only if the passengers wear face masks inside the flight, the plane’s air conditioning and filtration systems function properly, and the cabin is disinfected well while ensuring enough ventilation from gate-to-gate at the airport.
An excerpt from the study reads: “Airlines and airports are campaigning to inform the public about actions they can take to reduce disease transmission on their journey. This includes public health safety information while booking, at check-in, boarding, and on the aircraft. Cabin crew receive training to identify and isolate potentially infected individuals should a case appear on board an aircraft,” it said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Notably, the study was funded by airlines, airplane makers, and airports, but the Harvard researchers have claimed it did not influence the study findings.Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here