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6-feet apart or 60-feet apart - social distancing is not the magic bullet to limit the spread

The Covid-19 pandemic is the defining moment in the history of the US healthcare industry. The world continues to struggle while tackling the second wave of the Covid-19 virus by imposing restrictions such as reducing the occupancy of spaces, social distancing, lockdowns, and usage of masks. Various countries embraced the “new normal” and quickly adapted to masks, sanitizers, social distancing, and other rules. But did these restrictions slowed down the rate at which the virus has been spreading?

Despite strict lockdowns, many cities saw an upsurge in the number of covid-19 cases. Paradoxically, those cities which fared well in times of crisis had zero to limited restrictions and lockdowns. One example is Texas, where the tally decreased after the government lifted all lockdown and occupancy restrictions.

According to conventional wisdom, wearing a mask and standing 6-feet apart from each other is the surefire technique to bid adieu to the deadly monster. But a recent study by MIT scientists Martin Z. Bazant and John W.M. Bush reveal that the six-foot social distancing and limited occupancy guidelines are doing little to curb the spread of the virus.

“The risk of being exposed to Covid-19 indoors can be as great at 60 feet as it is at 6 feet in a room where the air is mixed — even when wearing a mask.”

This study reveals that staying 6-feet away from someone does not necessarily benefit, even when wearing a mask. “We argue there isn’t much of a benefit to the 6-foot rule, especially when people are wearing masks” since everyone in the room is breathing the same air, Bazant said in an interview. “It has almost no physical basis because the air a person is breathing while wearing a mask tends to rise and comes down elsewhere in the room, so you’re more exposed to the average background than you are to a person at a distance.”

According to Bazant, following the 6-feet distance rule without wearing a mask would provide some additional protection against Covid-19. This research was based on the fact that the air in an enclosed room is “well-mixed.” Hence, the pathogen distribution is uniform throughout. They further added that “no one is safer from airborne pathogens at 60 feet than 6 feet.” The longer someone stays inside without an infected person, the more chances they will catch the infection.

This study also challenged the notion of shutting down spaces and reducing their occupancy. “Oftentimes the space is large enough, the ventilation is good enough, the amount of time people spend together is such that those spaces can be safely operated even at full capacity and the scientific support for reduced capacity in those spaces is really not very good,” Bazant said, citing some university classrooms. “I think if you run the numbers, even right now for many types of spaces, you’d find that there is not a need for occupancy restrictions.” Poorly ventilated spaces where people spend a lot of time together are at most risk.

Installing fans and opening windows is the best technique to keep the air moving instead of spending thousands on air filtration. Adding further, Bush and Bazant write, “To minimize the risk of infection, one should avoid spending extended periods in highly populated areas. One is safer in rooms with large volumes and high ventilation rates. One is at greater risk in rooms where people are exerting themselves in such a way as to increase their respiration rate and pathogen output, for example, by exercising, singing, or shouting.”

While the 6-feet rule and masks might have been an excellent place to start, they’re not the magic bullet to stop the spread of Covid-19. As responsible individuals, we must adopt alternative strategies to fight the menace and emerge victoriously. While some say the Pfizer vaccine is an effective way to steer clear of the virus, recent studies reveal that this vaccine has long-term effects. Pfizer coronavirus vaccine can cause neurodegenerative diseases in the long term.

“The RNA sequence of the vaccine as well as the spike protein target interaction were analyzed for the potential to convert intracellular RNA binding proteins TAR DNA binding protein (TDP-43) and Fused in Sarcoma (FUS) into their pathologic prion conformations,” as per a report. The binding protein TDP-43 is known to cause dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ALS, according to Alzpedia. The report ends with a shocking warning that “the vaccine could be a bioweapon and even more dangerous than the original infection.”

Amidst new studies and reports, we are bound to think if life would ever come back to normal again. But as the saying goes, “this too shall pass.”



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