According to a recent survey, those over six feet tall are twice as likely to welcome the coronavirus into their lives.
Early results from a survey of 2,000 people in the UK and US has indicated that people over six feet tall (1.83 metres) are twice as likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19.
Findings from the survey, analysed by a team of data scientists in the UK, Norway and the US, add further weight to the notion that COVID-19 aerosol transmission is “materially significant”.
While the study is yet to be peer-reviewed, the researchers behind the survey have released a statement in which they claim that air purification needs to be considered in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
The study authors assert that taller people should not face an increased risk of being infected if the virus was transmitted exclusively through droplets, since droplets don’t linger in the air but fall to the floor soon after being expelled from an infected person’s mouth or nose. Aerosolised particles, on the other hand, can be carried by air currents and tend to accumulate in poorly ventilated spaces.
“The results of this survey in terms of associations between height and diagnosis suggest downward droplet transmission is not the only transmission mechanism and aerosol transmission is possible,” comments Professor Evan Kontopantelis from the University of Manchester.
Airborne transmission has been a hot topic since the early days of the pandemic. 239 health experts from around the world signed a statement that criticised the World Health Organisation (WHO) for insisting that COVID-19 can only be spread through droplets. The statement, combined with increasing pressure from the scientific community at large, finally pushed the WHO to update its official scientific brief on coronavirus to acknowledge as much: “short-range aerosol transmission… cannot be ruled out.”
The latest survey from the same authors attempted to explore the impact of certain personal characteristics, circumstances and working conditions. For example, using a shared kitchen or accommodation—a proxy for deprivation—greatly increases the spread of the virus, especially in the US where odds increased 3.5 times. Given that these arrangements are most common among lower-income families and individuals, the researchers say their findings provide further evidence between COVID-19 and socio-economic status.