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Japanese supercomputer shows how humidity affects spread of COVID-19


A Japanese supercomputer has shown how humidity affects the spread of viral particles – suggesting that the use of humidifiers may help limit coronavirus infections during dry conditions this winter, according to a report.

Researchers used Fugaku supercomputer to illustrate the emission and spread of virus-like particles from infected people in a range of indoor environments, Reuters reported.

Humidity of less than 30 percent resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolized particles compared to levels of 60 percent or greater, according to the simulations by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

The study also found that clear face shields are not as effective as masks in preventing the spread of aerosols and that diners are more at risk from people to their side compared to across the table.

There has been a growing consensus among health experts that the deadly bug can be spread through the air. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised its guidance to say the pathogen can linger in the air for hours.

The Riken research team led by Makoto Tsubokura has previously used the supercomputer to study contagion conditions in trains, work spaces, and classrooms.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles.

The simulations showed that opening windows on trains can increase the ventilation by two to three times, lowering the concentration of microbes.

“People’s blind fear or unfounded confidence against the infection of COVID-19 is simply because it is invisible,” Tsubokura said.

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