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Respiratory droplet motion, evaporation and spread of COVID-19-type pandemics

Flow diagram outlining the interconnections of the model developed. Credit: Swetaprovo Chaudhuri, Saptarshi Basu, Prasenjit Kabi, Vishnu R Unni and Abhishek Saha It is well established that the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease is transmitted via respiratory droplets that infected people eject when they cough, sneeze or talk. Consequently, much research targets better understanding droplet motion and evaporation to understand transmission more deeply.

In a paper in Physics of Fluids , researchers developed a mathematical model , proceeding from first principles, for the early phases of a COVID-19-like pandemic using the aerodynamics and evaporation characteristics of respiratory droplets.

The researchers modeled the pandemic dynamics with a reaction mechanism , wherein each reaction has a rate constant obtained by calculating the droplet collision frequency. They then compared the droplet cloud ejected by an infected person versus one by a healthy person.

“The size of the droplet cloud, the distance it travels, and the droplet lifetimes are, therefore, all important factors that we calculated using conservation of mass, momentum, energy and species,” said Swetaprovo Chaudhuri, one of the authors.

The model could be used to estimate approximately how long droplets can survive, how far they can travel, and which size of droplet survives […]

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