KYW Medical Report: The change in understanding how COVID-19 spreads

A woman using antibacterial hand gel while wearing a mask.
A woman using antibacterial hand gel while wearing a mask. Photo credit Drazen Zigic/Getty Images
By KYW Newsradio

KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross.

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There is no argument that COVID-19 is spread mostly from person to person through microscopic droplets.

Studies and investigations of outbreaks all point to the majority of transmissions occurring as a result of infected people spreading droplets and small particles called aerosols when they cough, talk or breathe. These can be directly inhaled by people close by.

Surface transmission, although possible, is not thought to be a significant risk.

However, when hospitals and cruise ships were tested at the start of the pandemic, viral RNA particles seemed to be everywhere on surfaces, which has led to massive surface cleaning efforts.

Scientists now know that the viral RNA is the equivalent of the corpse of the virus and it’s not necessarily infectious.

So what’s the latest thinking?

People should wash hands thoroughly and continue to clean surfaces, but the major focus remains wearing masks and social distancing.