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Experts agree that the novel coronavirus behind COVID-19 spreads through direct contact and large droplets that, once sneezed or coughed out, often fall harmlessly to the ground. But a recent letter signed by 239 scientists suggests that the virus may also spread by airborne transmission, lingering in the air for hours within lighter “microdroplets.” The letter challenges the most recent guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), urging the institution  to recognize airborne transmission as a significant route of COVID-19 infection, and plan accordingly.

“We need to be attentive and mindful of all the important transmission pathways to make progress” with COVID-19, William Nazaroff, contributing author of the letter and professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California Berkeley, told Live Science.

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