#MSCOVID19: need to fly?

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Barts-MS rose-tinted-odometer: ★★

The following is some sound, sensible, advice about how to reduce your risk of being exposed to coronavirus on an aeroplane.

Image from JAMA

Pombal et al. Risk of COVID-19 During Air Travel. JAMA. Published online October 1, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.19108

Wear a mask, don’t travel if you feel unwell, and limit carry-on baggage. Keep distance from others wherever possible; report to staff if someone is clearly unwell. If there is an overhead air nozzle, adjust it to point straight at your head and keep it on full. Stay seated if possible, and follow crew instructions. Wash or sanitize hands frequently and avoid touching your face.

CoI: multiple

Twitter: @gavinGiovannoni Medium: @gavin_24211

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

10 comments

  • This looks like an interesting bit of propaganda from the struggling airline industry. I’ve seen that I, and lots of people that I’ve met, get colds after going on flights. If you reduce the oxygen partial pressure blood clots more quickly in vitro, but the airline industry proved in a court of law, with lots of expensive lawyers, that flights with a reduced cabin pressure (virtually all of them) don’t cause Deep Vein Thromboses (DVTs). If you don’t want to catch CoVID-19, don’t travel, whether by aeroplane or any other vehicle, clean your hands regularly, maintain social distancing and don’t touch your face. If you must travel, make sure that you follow all of Gavin’s advice to maximise your chances of survival when you catch CoVID-19.

    • Possibly. The article is written by aviation medics from:

      Aerospace Medical Association, Alexandria, Virginia
      International Airline Medical Association, Alexandria, Virginia
      International Air Transport Association (IATA), Geneva, Switzerland

        • I suspect hidden interests. International Airline Medical Association allows corporate members, i.e. airline industries, and IATA is paid for by the subscriptions of travel agents. Most airlines act as their own travel agents.

    • Maybe, but in Australia with compulsory hotel quarantine for 14 days for international travellers (and also some interstate travellers) and testing on days 2 and 11 there hasn’t been plane loads of positive people at day 11.
      Admittedly numbers on in coming international air craft are very low, but the numbers on internal air craft have been closer to “normal” and again there hasn’t seemed to be any out breaks traced to people on the same flight.
      I do always wonder when it comes to colds/flu after a flight whether it was from the flight or the airport.

      • I suspect, especially in the case of Australia, a large part of it is to do with the stress on the body of long-haul flying – lack of sleep, adjusting to a different time zone, change in climate, etc.

    • If people are tending to catch COVID-19 from flights, it would be hard to hide the fact, surely. Whereas DVT is a much slippier fish when it comes to proving cause.

      • DVT is a good point to raise though – I get through long haul flights by getting up frequently to walk around the plane, walk on the spot, stretch etc. I imagine that is all frowned upon now.

  • This comment by Wayne Maksylewich in JAMA says it all. He cites Lydia Bourouiba, JAMA March 26, 2020 for an image of droplet spread when sneezing or coughing and examples of CoVID-19 spread in flights. If you don’t want to be exposed to CoVID-19, don’t travel.

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