Covid-19 risk on airplanes is less than restaurants and grocery stores, according to a research project of the Aviation Public Health Initiative (“APHI”), conducted by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The APHI research just released is the first phase of the initiative’s “Gate-to-Gate” Report of SARS CoV-2 Transmission and Risk Mitigation While Flying.
The research report has concluded that while air travelers sit in close proximity during flights, the superior air exchange and air filtering obviates the proximity risk. In fact, because of the frequent exchange of air on airplanes and the effectiveness of HEPA filters, more than 99% of the particles that contain the virus are removed from cabin air. This is a more effective environment for reducing the possibility of Covid-19 exposure than more common everyday settings such as grocery stores and indoor restaurants.
The APHI report notes that for Covid-19 risk on Airplanes to be less than restaurants, grocery stores, and other more common environments, passengers need to play their role in addition to the effectiveness of air exchange systems. Recommendations for passengers include, wearing masks at all times except for very short periods to eat or drink, maintaining social distancing during boarding and deplaning, providing personal health attestations, and maintaining hand hygiene.
The Harvard APHI study is important for economic recovery and economic development everywhere. Numerous industries are directly impacted by the economic stability of the air industry, both for passenger travel and cargo shipments. Some industry sectors are especially impacted by the dearth of air passenger travel so far in 2020, such as the >hotel and resorts industry and regional visitor destinations that depend upon tourist arriving by air travel.
A second phase of research is coming soon. This next phase of the report will focus on the curb-to-curb airport environment, which will examine testing, the indoor air environment of airports, and other measures to reduce risk of disease transmission.
An excellent summary of Harvard’s APHI research by The Meetings Magazine is available by clicking here: Harvard Report: Low Risk Of COVID-19 Transmission On Airplanes