Scientists describe ways to catch & avoid Omicron

Japanese researchers have called on those who want to avoid infection ‘to go back to the basics’

A team of Japanese scientists has revealed the perfect ways to catch the Omicron coronavirus variant and to avoid it, concluding that “the basics” still work wonders.

The study, titled ‘Prediction of virus droplet infection in indoor environment and its countermeasures’, was conducted by the Riken Center for Computational Science and Kobe University researchers, using Fugaku supercomputer simulations.

The scientists came to the conclusion that the probability of catching Omicron from a maskless person after a 15-minute conversation at a one-meter distance was around 60% on average, but that it could be up to over 90%. The same simulation with the Delta variant (for their projections, the scientists used an estimate that Omicron was 1.5 times more transmissible than Delta) showed lower probabilities, at 50% and 80% respectively.

The research also confirmed that maintaining social distance mattered: A two-meter distance decreased the probability of getting Omicron to 60% at the highest level and over 20% on the average one.

Masks also proved to be unsung heroes. Even at a distance of just 25 centimeters, the highest probability of infection did not exceed 30%. By increasing the distance to one meter, the risk of spreading the infection decreased to almost zero.

The graphs show the infection probability of the Omicron or Delta variants depend on the distance between an infected person and a potential recipient of the virus during a 15-minute conversation. In the first graph, an infected person is wearing the mask. In the second one, they are not.


©  Riken Center for Computational Science, Kobe University

It is important to go back to the basics and to make sure that people take measures against infection, such as keeping a distance from people. Also, in order to reduce the risk of infection to the level of that of the original novel coronavirus, we need more measures,” leader of the team and professor at Kobe University Makoto Tsubokura said, as quoted by the Asahi Shimbun.

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