On the day that the government announce a relaxation of the 2m social distancing rule in England, HealthWatch has published a new lay summary of the evidence.
The 2 metre rule seems to have been based on the assumption that SARS-CoV-2 – the virus responsible for the disease COVID-19 – is transmitted mainly via large droplets sneezed or coughed onto other people or surfaces. Increasingly evidence is showing that the virus is also spread via tiny airborne particles that could transmit the infection at distances greater than 2m.
Social distancing alone is not a magic bullet, but is one risk-reducing factor to be used alongside good indoor ventilation, regular and effective hand washing, keeping surfaces clean, wearing face coverings where appropriate, and prompt isolation of infected individuals.
"What is the evidence to support the 2-metre social distancing rule to reduce COVID-19 transmission? – a lay summary" is based on a new evidence review by the team at the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, who created the Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service to conduct evidence reviews on important questions about the science of the pandemic. Volunteers at HealthWatch are working with them to produce lay summaries of their reviews. Look out for them here.