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Title: Computational characterization of inhaled droplet transport to the nasopharynx

How human respiratory physiology and the transport phenomena associated with inhaled airflow in the upper airway proceed to impact transmission of SARS-CoV-2, leading to the initial infection, stays an open question. An answer can help determine the susceptibility of an individual on exposure to a COVID-2019 carrier and can also provide a preliminary projection of the still-unknown infectious dose for the disease. Computational fluid mechanics enabled tracking of respiratory transport in medical imaging-based anatomic domains shows that the regional deposition of virus-laden inhaled droplets at the initial nasopharyngeal infection site peaks for the droplet size range of approximately 2.5–19$$\upmu $$μ. Through integrating the numerical findings on inhaled transmission with sputum assessment data from hospitalized COVID-19 patients and earlier measurements of ejecta size distribution generated during regular speech, this study further reveals that the number of virions that may go on to establish the SARS-CoV-2 infection in a subject could merely be in the order of hundreds.

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Nature Publishing Group
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Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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