WHO Introduces 'Infectious Respiratory Particles' Term for Airborne Pathogens

  • 22 Apr 2024

On 18th April 2024, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the term 'Infectious Respiratory Particles' (IRPs) to describe pathogens like COVID-19, ending terminology confusion.

Key Points

  • Terminology Challenge Addressed: The WHO resolves the lack of common terminology for airborne pathogen transmission with the introduction of 'Infectious Respiratory Particles' (IRPs).
  • Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for standardized terminology, facilitating scientific and policy guidance amidst varying terminologies.
  • Description of IRPs: IRPs include pathogens causing respiratory infections such as COVID-19, influenza, measles, MERS, SARS, and TB, emitted through breathing, talking, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Continuous Spectrum of Sizes: IRPs exist on a spectrum of sizes, eliminating the dichotomy of 'aerosols' and 'droplets', allowing for a more nuanced understanding of airborne transmission.
  • Global Technical Consultation Report: The WHO publishes a report on proposed terminology for airborne pathogens, reflecting consensus among major public health agencies and experts.
  • Implementation Implications: The next steps involve further research and exploration of implementation implications of the updated descriptors for global health interventions.