239 scientists write letter to WHO, urge organization to recognize coronavirus travels farther in the air

There are new fears the coronavirus can spread more easily.

More than 200 scientists have written an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) saying more needs to be done to stop it. 

The particles that spread coronavirus could travel much farther than your average social distancing space. 

"They can travel tens of feet, not just 6 feet, 30 feet." 

That's according to a new letter written by 239 scientists from around the world.

It's a letter they've sent to the World Health Organization that urges it to acknowledge that coronavirus can spread through airborne transmission of smaller particles.

So far, the WHO has maintained COVID-19 primarily spreads through large droplets from a person's cough or sneeze.

Dr. Donald Axelrad is a board member of the Florida Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

He's read the letter from those scientists.

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange) — also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIH)

"These microdroplets, also known as aerosols, they’re much smaller and because they’re smaller, they’re buoyant and they can float around the air for a while, hours even," he said. 

He says if the WHO acknowledges the virus can spread this way, then we can put into place more effective ways to stop the spread, including better ventilation that uses air filters and ultraviolet technology.

"The air is sucked up into this structure. It’s exposed to ultraviolet light, which kills the viruses and then the air is released back to the room," Dr. Axelrad said.

Looking at the numbers, he says face masks and social distancing just clearly aren't cutting it. 

"We’ve got to use every weapon at our disposal. The virus certainly is using every weapon at its disposal," Dr. Axelrad said.

The WHO says it considers airborne transmission possible, but that there isn't enough solid or clear evidence to support it.

The scientists reportedly plan to publish their letter in a scientific journal this week.