The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pulled its updated guidance that the coronavirus is airborne and can travel distances beyond 6 feet – saying a draft version was posted in error on its website.
“It is possible that COVID-19 may spread through the droplets and airborne particles that are formed when a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes,” the CDC said in an update posted Friday.
The CDC had said for months that the disease is mainly transmitted between people in close proximity through large droplets.
But after adding last week that tiny particles known as aerosols could transmit the virus, the agency restored its earlier guidelines about how the deadly pathogen is spread, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website,” a CDC spokesman told the news outlet.
The agency is still working on updating its recommendations about airborne transmission of the bug, the rep added.
“Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted,” he said.
The CDC’s about-face adds to scientists’ concerns that the agency is facing pressure from the White House to encourage reopening of schools and businesses, as well as to reduce testing, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“I think the statement on airborne transmission that was briefly available on the CDC website was correct,” Linsey Marr, a Virginia Tech professor who is an expert on airborne transmission of viruses, told the news outlet.
“I hope that they are just refining the language and that they’re planning to put it back up there,” she added.
Last week, the CDC reversed a controversial recommendation that close contacts of coronavirus patients don’t have to get tested if they are asymptomatic.
In July, the World Health Organization acknowledged the possibility of aerosol transmission – though it said it believed that transmission mainly occurs through larger, respiratory droplets and close contact.