The recently formed National Academies Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, assembled at the request of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, has been providing rapid expert consultations on several topics, such as social distancing and severe illness in young adults.  The standing committee’s latest rapid expert consultation responds to a question from OSTP regarding the possibility that COVID-19 could be spread by conversation, in addition to droplets induced by sneezing or coughing.

While specific research on COVID-19 is limited, results of available studies support the possibility that viral particles can be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by exhalation of patients with COVID-19.  However, there is not currently enough evidence to confirm that these particles are viable and in amounts sufficient to cause infection.

Dana Korsen, Media Relations Manager
Stephanie Miceli, Media Relations Officer

Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail

Join Our Community

Sign up for NAM email updates