UMCG investigates the presence of coronavirus particles in aerosols


Foto: PIRO4D by Pixabay

The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) is starting an investigation into the distribution of corona via aerosols. Can the coronavirus spread through aerosols, small drops of moisture in the air? And if possible, in which social situations does this happen, and during which medical procedures? ”

Researcher Mariëtte Lokate of the department of medical microbiology & infection prevention at the UMCG will receive 25,000 euros from the COVID-19 Program ‘Science for practice’ from subsidy provider ZonMW to investigate this.


For her research, researcher Lokate uses a microbiological air sampler to test people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. This allows her to measure the air in the room after someone has talked, coughed or sneezed, for example. “The air sampler sucks up air. The smallest particles in that air end up in a liquid, which we then test for the presence of the coronavirus, ”says Lokate.

If there are indeed virus particles present, a culture follows that shows whether it is a live virus. Lokate: “The next step could be to investigate how much live virus is in the small fluid droplets and whether they can transmit infection with the corona virus.”

Medical procedures

In addition, she will investigate the possible spread of the coronavirus via aerosols during medical procedures. “We focus, among other things, on distribution to patients who need non-invasive respiratory support, for example support with oxygen goggles, oxygen mask or CPAP. We would like to know whether corona patients who need respiratory support are more likely to spread the virus to the air through small drops of moisture. This is important for the nurses and doctors to know. We will also be doing tests in medical areas for this, where the air is regularly refreshed. ”

In the coming months, Lokate will ask patients and staff of the UMCG who test positive for the coronavirus to participate in these tests. She is expected to publish the results of her research in December this year. Researcher Mariëtte Lokate works together with the University of Twente.

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