Claims the spread of COVID-19 could be suppressed like influenza by regulating indoor humidity need to be investigated, say Australian experts.
The theory is based on 2013 research showing patients are safer from the flu in a room set at higher relative humidity than a dry one.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention study found more than 75 per cent of influenza particles were able to cause infection an hour after being coughed into an area where humidity levels were 23 per cent.
When the levels were raised to 43 per cent, just 14 per cent of the particles were infectious.
While potentially significant, Adelaide University Research Centre for Infectious Disease deputy director Michael Beard says the idea humidification might subdue COVID-19 needs analysis.
“It seems to be that this virus is a little bit hardier or a little more resistant to some of the external forces that might cause it to degrade,” he says.
“I think influenza is a lot more susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. But I think this is a really good starting point.”
While it’s far from settled science, evidence has emerged that the coronavirus prefers dry conditions.
Data collected by Nanjing University from more than 500 locations across the globe since late January suggests weather, including relative humidity, is a factor in the spread of the contagion.
Researchers from universities in Madrid and Helsinki are also reporting that tropical parts of the globe seem least affected.
That’s enough to indicate one of the best ways to combat COVID-19 is to set humidity levels inside hospitals, schools, offices and homes between 40 and 60 per cent, claims American researcher Stephanie Taylor.