Harvard study: Flying presents lower risk of COVID-19 than grocery shopping, dining out

A new gate-to-gate study by scientists from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health is the most comprehensive research to date to conclude that the layered approach U.S. airlines, have taken to protect customers and employees from COVID-19 means the risk of exposure during air travel is very low.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not confirmed a single case of COVID-19 transmission on a U.S. airplane.

Delta boarding

“The risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard aircraft [is] below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out,” the Harvard researchers concluded. “Implementing these layered risk mitigation strategies…requires passenger and airline compliance [but] will help to ensure that air travel is as safe or substantially safer than the routine activities people undertake during these times.”

The report concludes that the universal use of face masks, diligent cleaning protocols and advanced ventilation and filtration systems offer significant protection against COVID-19, lowering the risk of transmission on an aircraft to minimal levels. 

The study determined that the use of face masks was “the most essential part of a comprehensive set of measures to reduce COVID-19 during air travel.”

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