In 2020, as
the COVID-19 virus spread across the globe, Dr. David Edwards, an aerosol
scientist and faculty member at Harvard University’s School of Engineering,
released the Fast Emergency Nasal Defence (FEND) Mist Maker, a product
specifically aimed to help its users improve airway hygiene.
Now, as the
Delta variant causes newfound safety concerns for travelers, Dr. Edwards weighs
in on its impact for travelers — both those who are vaccinated against
COVID-19, and those who are not.
travelers need to know right now about the Delta variant? What is it, and how
does it compare to the original strain of COVID-19?
variant of the coronavirus is a double mutation of the original strain of
SARS-CoV-2. Viruses mutate as they spread in a population. Those mutations with
more ability to spread than others naturally supplant other forms of the virus
as the predominant strains of infection.
start of the pandemic, there have been many variants of interest, or “VOIs” as
identified by the World Health Organization. The Delta variant appears to be
several hundred times more contagious than the original strain. Our own data
suggests the Delta variant is far more able to enter the air than previous
forms of the virus.
variant appears to be several hundred times more contagious than the original
strain. Our own data suggests the Delta variant is far more able to enter the
air than previous forms of the virus.
this variant impact the travel experience moving forward? What tips do you have
about protecting yourself from the Delta variant while traveling?
variant merely reinforces the importance of vaccination and the use of all
means of hygienic care in staying safe from infection in any environment where
exposure to the virus is possible — travel included.
with vaccination. Those who are not vaccinated, and even those who are, [should
wear] double masks while traveling, assure that one is traveling with an
airline that does all it can to respect social distance regulations, and
minimize time spent in crowds [while at the airport.] As a daily practice,
hydrate the upper airways, whether by natural means (humid environments, inside
and out, salty environments, as near the sea coast) or by airway hygiene –the
daily nasal inhalation droplets of water and physiological salts to the upper
airways. [These] are new “lung” hygiene
approaches that have emerged during the pandemic and, as with masks and social
distancing, are proving effective at diminishing risks of infection and
transmission or airborne disease generally. Vaccinated or not, one is at risk
of infection and at transmitting infection and should be mindful of the best
respiratory hygiene practices.
different precautions be taken depending on the mode of transportation?
(Airplanes vs. busses, trains vs. cars, for example?)
of transport offer better circulated air than others. Crowded buses and cars
without windows open can be particularly dangerous.
anticipate further national or international travel restrictions and lockdowns
to be put in place due to the spread of the Delta variant?
we have seen in India over the past six months as Delta spread, and given the
degree of global vaccination coverage, I believe that travel restrictions will
be common and particularly lean into the importance of vaccination.
should vaccinated travelers keep in mind when traveling right now, compared to
I would not
distinguish between personal mindfulness of vaccinated and non-vaccinated
individuals. When one is in a setting of only vaccinated individuals, one is in
a safer environment — the issue to bear in mind it that individual and
collective thinking are two matters in a pandemic. Everyone should be vigilant
personally. Populations can be more at ease as vaccination rates increase.
should those working in the travel industry and dealing with traveling clients
on a day-to-day basis be aware of when it comes to advising them on
precautions, but still operating their businesses safely?
Leaders today should do everything they can to learn and adapt — to follow the science. One of the challenges of this pandemic is that its scale and severity have pushed scientists to discover new approaches to protect ourselves, and to learn constantly about the nature of the disease threat. This can bring short- and long-term benefits to us all. Meanwhile, bringing what scientists are learning and sharing via the peer-reviewed literature to mass adoption will be a matter of industry leadership savvy.
By EMMA WEISSMANN, Digital Managing Editor / TRAVELAGE WEST https://www.travelagewest.com/News/Industry-Interviews/Delta-Variant-Travel-David-Edwards