Published by Denis Noble FRS, Hon FRCP

More than a decade ago Biologist and Broadcaster Brian Ford wrote a stark warning in a special report for Encyclopedia Britannica:

“One day Westerners [like people in the East]…. may be seen wearing face masks in public places.”

Why? Because, he noted, “coronaviruses infect many animals”, and he asked the stark questions:

“What other diseases are waiting in the wings? How does the disease spread in a modern world?”

This was published way back in 2004. In December 2019 we got the wake up call from China. We had weeks of warning. What did we do? We waited for the inevitable worldwide spread that Brian Ford predicted. Did we have testing ready? No.  And we still don’t have enough testing capacity. Were we wearing face masks when it arrived? No. Do we now have an unheard-of crisis? Yes. Could we have prepared? You bet we could have done!  We could have followed what South Korea has done to control the outbreak: universally, Test, Trace and Treat: the three Ts.

Instead, we were told that face masks were useless. Just have a look at this graphic way of demonstrating the impact of face masks on the spread of coronavirus:

How could this happen? Clearly, the viral spread must be more than just via droplets at close quarters. And indeed the latest report from a major medical Center in the USA [1] confirms that

“SARS-CoV-2 is shed during respiration, toileting, and fomite contact, indicating that infection may occur in both direct and indirect contact.”

The research shows that the airborne spread even infected the hallways of the hospital.  It was not confined to close to the patients.

[1] Santarpia et al. 2020 Transmission Potential of SARS-CoV-2 in Viral Shedding Observed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.