This Revolting Supercomputer Simulation Shows How COVID-19 Spreads at a Table

The simulation may be disgusting but it sure communicates the importance of social distancing.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on the COVID-19 virus, claiming that the airborne transmission of infected particles — which can "linger in the air for minutes to hours," can even occur between people spaced more than 6 ft (roughly 1.8 m) apart. Now, a new simulation has surfaced showing just how the virus spreads at a dinner table.

The simulation conducted by Japanese researchers on a supercomputer called Fugaku looked at a scenario where four people are sitting at a dining room table facing each other. The research found that when talking to the person sitting in front of them, about 5% of droplets reached the individual.

When talking to the person sitting diagonally, only one-fourth of the amount reached the individual. When looking sideways to talk to the person sitting right next to the individual, more than 25% of droplets were transmitted.

They also examined scenarios of droplet transmission according to humidity levels. Interestingly, the scientists did note that fewer droplets were spread when the humidity was higher. 

The demonstration is a pretty gross but effective simulation of exactly how dangerous having dinner conversations without masks is. It's also a great reminder of how crucial social distancing is.

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