Recently there has been research supporting the fact that genetics can influence your risk of developing a severe coronavirus infection. Now, a new study is claiming that height may also be a factor—but this time, it has absolutely nothing to do with your genes.
According to researchers from the University of Oxford who surveyed 2000 people in the UK and US, being tall—over six feet in height—more than doubled a man’s chances of having COVID-19.
It’s Because the Virus is Airborne
Curiously, researchers claim this has nothing to do with the genetics behind being tall. Instead, their findings support that the virus is transmitted through aerosol droplets—in other words, that coronavirus is airborne.
Previously it was thought that the virus was transmitted through large viral droplets traveling short distances when someone coughs, laughs, speaks, etc. and then falls to the ground. However, researchers now believe that it may spread through tiny particles, or aerosols, that can linger in the air for longer periods of time. Earlier this month the World Health Organization admitted there is “emerging evidence” to support the airborne nature of the virus. If this is the case, height could definitely increase someone’s chances of coming into contact with the virus.
“The results of this survey in terms of associations between height and diagnosis suggest downward droplet transmission is not the only transmission mechanism and aerosol transmission is possible,” Professor Evan Kontopantelis, of the University of Manchester, told the Daily Telegraph. “This has been suggested by other studies, but our method of confirmation is novel.”
Kontopantelis also pointed out that these findings can be helpful in determining effective preventative measures.
‘Though social distancing is still important, because transmission by droplets is still likely to occur, it does suggest that mask-wearing may be just as—if not more—effective in prevention,” he added. “But also, air purification in interior spaces should be further explored.”
Avoid Crowded, Poorly Ventilated Spaces
While the paper has yet to be peer-reviewed, the authors are confident that their findings support the theory that COVID-19 is in fact airborne and should encourage further research supporting it. And, according to the WHO, that is exactly what is being done.
“The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings—especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out,” Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control said this week. “However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this.”
No matter your height, protect yourself from COVID-19. Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.