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New study to shed light on the airborne transmission of Covid-19

Published on 22.9.2020
Tampere University
Tampere University, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) are launching a new study to explore and support the development of methods to prevent the airborne spread of Covid-19. The first results are expected in early 2021.

Important questions remain unanswered about the transmission of the coronavirus via airborne routes in different environments. Recent studies have shown that the coronavirus can be transmitted through tiny respiratory droplets called aerosols floating lingering in the air. Still, more research is needed to determine the role that the airborne route plays in the transmission of Covid-19. Large respiratory droplets expelled by coughing evaporate quickly, but smaller aerosols aerosol particles can remain suspended in the air for hours. The new multidisciplinary study will offer new insights into the methods and techniques for preventing airborne transmission, such as ventilation, air filtration and data solutions.

“The study will generate new research knowledge that will help Finnish companies develop new solutions for preventing airborne transmission. Understanding how the virus is transmitted from one person to the next will also enable the design of targeted ventilation and air filtration solutions to minimise the risk of transmission and thereby avoid a second national lockdown. The same solutions can be implemented to reduce the health effects of fine particles and prevent future outbreaks of infectious diseases,” says Aku Karvinen, senior scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

“The purpose of this study is not only to develop research-informed solutions and tools but also set the stage for broader R&D collaboration. We hope industry and business partners join our efforts as we move beyond the current study to explore further collaboration opportunities,” says Topi Rönkkö, associate professor (tenure track) in the Aerosol Physics Laboratory at Tampere University.  

The new study brings together the expertise of Tampere University, VTT and THL, for example, in the areas of airborne transmission simulation, the composition of droplets and aerosols, and virus detection methods. VTT has a long history of developing simulation methods, while researchers at Tampere University have a wealth of expertise on the formation and behaviour of aerosols and experience of experimental research methods. THL will be responsible for carrying our measurements and detecting viruses in the air. The new study will result in a strong knowledge base and research-informed tools that can be used both in the context of scientific research and when carrying out development projects with industry and business. 

The study has received approximately €300,000 from Business Finland. The three research organisations, the Indoor Air Quality Ecosystem (IAQe) supported by Business Finland, and other stakeholders make up a network that will respond to future research challenges and support companies in the commercialisation and launch of competitive solutions. 

Tampere University, Associate Professor (tenure track) Topi Rönkkö, tel. +358 40 198 1019, topi.ronkko [at]

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Senior Scientist Aku Karvinen, tel. +358 40 510 2142, aku.karvinen [at]
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Martin Täubel, tel. +358 29 524 6466, martin.taubel [at]
Tamlink Oy / Indoor Air Quality ecosystem (IAQe), Jari Erkkilä, tel. +358 40 513 6917, jari.erkkila [at]