There is a myna in my room at the office as I write this. It’s hot outside, but I’ll be chasing it soon. He entered through a window set up a few days ago. To be exact, there was always a window. Only, it was one of those glass plates affixed to the frame, and which could not be opened. Now I have a large sliding window that I always leave open. As regular readers of this column know, I hired Covid in April. I suspect that despite all the precautions I took, the air in my room got me in (I could be wrong, but I pretty much ruled out all other options). Hence the window. And hence the myna (which was cast out). Much emphasis has been placed on the variants and role of mass market events in the emergence of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India. What didn’t get much attention was the ventilation, as my old friend and adman (no, he’s not like Don Draper at all) Shashi Sinha reminded me. Shortly after our interview, India’s office of the chief scientific adviser issued a notice titled “Stop Transmission, Crush The Pandemic,” which included an entire section on ventilation – at home and at work. As India plans to open as the second wave eases (Delhi, for example, has seen a sharp drop in low-digit positivity rates and could start opening as early as next week) , she would do well to focus on what may well have been a silent contributor to the surge in cases – ventilation.
It’s important, speaking of ventilation, to mention Linsey Marr, aerosol and infectious disease specialist at Virgina Tech, and among the first to say that the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes coronavirus disease is transmissible. by air. It was as early as April 2020, but no one listened to her and other scientists, who were simply pointing out that the virus-laden aerosol particles would behave pretty much like other aerosol particles in the world. same size – meaning they can travel (farther than six feet, for example, which was initially considered the safe distance in the case of Covid-19), hang for long periods of time and, most importantly, to be breathed. It is not clear why the WHO and national health organizations chose not to listen to scientists like Marr. Or Richard Corsi, from Maseeh College at the University of Portland, and indoor air quality expert. Again, as early as April 2020, Corsi was talking about how to make interior spaces safe – using existing technologies. No one listened.
It’s not hard to see how poor ventilation could have contributed to India’s second wave. By early February, cases in India had fallen to less than 10,000 a day, and with the vaccination campaign launched in January, most people believed India had won the war against the virus (it could still have, if its vaccine strategy was correct, but enough has been said). As a result, everything opened up: restaurants (to eat inside); the bars; shopping centers; offices (even multiplexes worked in most states; it’s true, closed and air-conditioned spaces, where they show films). The use of public transport (closed buses, subways) has increased. Virtual office meetings have given way to real meetings – conference rooms filled with many participants wearing their masks on their chins or around their necks. Indoor airborne transmission of the virus may well be responsible for most of the cases seen in February and March (and, along with the so-called worrying variants and wide-spread events, contributed to the second wave).
As India opens up after wave two and looks forward to at least six months of non-pharmaceutical interventions and restrictions (most of the population still unvaccinated), we would do well to pay attention to the work. scientists such as Marr and Corsi (or others, because there are a lot of them) to figure out how to secure interior spaces. The primary focus shouldn’t be retail stores, restaurants, or even offices. It should be the schools.