Scientists question WHO's study on relaxing social distancing norms

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Jun 15, 2020, 06:36 PM IST


Story highlights

the United Kingdom announced plans to relax the two-metre physical distancing rule

A group of scientists have unearthed inconsistencies in the global body World Health Organization’s (WHO) study about the risks of contracting/spreading COVID-19 within a certain distance.

Recently, the United Kingdom announced plans to relax the two-metre physical distancing rule. Scientists warned that the study in question should not ideally be used to justify the relaxation.

After WHO earlier stipulated two metres as the ideal distance between two people, critics across the globe called it too cautionary a tale.

The WHO research now being questioned claimed that a reduction in social distancing from two to one metres would increase increase the infection risk from 1.3 per cent to 2.6 per cent.

However, scientists believe the aforementioned research is short-sighted and should not be used as the blueprint to enforce distancing measures.

“The analysis of infection risk at 1 metre versus 2 metre should be treated with great caution,” Professor David Spiegelhalter, from Cambridge University told the Guardian. “I’m very suspicious of it”, Spiegelhalter added.

Another researcher from Open University referred to WHO’s analysis as “inappropriate”, while adding that the research “should not be used in arguments about how much greater the infection risk is at 1-metre minimum distance as opposed to 2 metres”.

This brings into question the veracity of research papers published on online portals like the Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers found that some papers are being hurriedly written and published, making the conclusions hard to process and verify.

The two portals mentioned above were recently forced to retract a few studies after flaws surfaced.

Boris Johnson recently said that the two metre distancing rule will be put under review.

(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)