IATA claims only one in 27 million air passengers develop Covid in flight

The International Air Transport Association claims that since the start of 2020 an updated tally of published cases shows there have been 44 cases of COVID-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (inclusive of confirmed, probable and potential cases). Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.

“The risk of a passenger contracting COVID-19 while onboard appears very low,” said Dr. David Powell. IATA’s Medical Advisor.

“With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travellers, that’s one case for every 27 million travelers. We recognize that this may be an underestimate but even if 90% of the cases were un-reported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travellers.

“We think these figures are extremely reassuring.” Powell said.

New insight into why the numbers are so low has come from the joint publication by Airbus, Boeing and Embraer of separate computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research conducted by each manufacturer in their aircraft.

While methodologies differed slightly, each detailed simulation confirmed that aircraft airflow systems do control the movement of particles in the cabin, limiting the spread of viruses.

IATA admitted there was no precise way to establish the exact number of aircraft transmissions.

But it said its “outreach to airlines and public health authorities combined with a thorough review of available literature” has not suggested any widespread onboard transmission.

“The addition of mask-wearing amid pandemic concerns adds a further and significant extra layer of protection, which makes being seated in close proximity in an aircraft cabin safer than most other indoor environments,” said IATA.

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