Virions and respiratory droplets in air: Diffusion, drift, and contact with the epithelium
Review article, 2020

Some infections, including e.g. influenza and currently active COVID 19, may be transmitted via air during sneezing, coughing, and talking. This pathway occurs via diffusion and gravity-induced drift of single virions and respiratory droplets consisting primarily of water, including small fraction of nonvolatile matter, and containing virions. These processes are accompanied by water evaporation resulting in reduction of the droplet size. The manifold of information concerning these steps is presented in textbooks and articles not related to virology and the focus is there frequently on biologically irrelevant conditions and/or droplet sizes. In this brief review, we systematically describe the behavior of virions and virion-carrying droplets in air with emphasis on various regimes of diffusion, drift, and evaporation, and estimate the rates of all these steps under virologically relevant conditions. In addition, we discuss the kinetic aspects of the first steps of infection after attachment of virions or virion-carrying droplets to the epithelium, i.e., virion diffusion in the mucus and periciliary layers, penetration into the cells, and the early stage of replication. The presentation is oriented to virologists who are interested in the corresponding physics and to physicists who are interested in application of the physics to virology.

Viruses

Evaporation

Epithelium

Convection

Diffusion and drift

Respiratory droplets

Author

Vladimir Zhdanov

Chalmers, Physics, Biological Physics

Chalmers, Physics, Chemical Physics

Russian Academy of Sciences

Bengt Herbert Kasemo

Chalmers, Physics, Biological Physics

Chalmers, Physics, Chemical Physics

BioSystems

0303-2647 (ISSN)

Vol. 198 104241

Subject Categories

Physical Chemistry

Other Biological Topics

Other Chemical Engineering

DOI

10.1016/j.biosystems.2020.104241

PubMed

32896576

More information

Latest update

11/19/2020