A recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering found that a person is 300 times more prone to contract COVID-19 infection while sitting in an AC cab with an infected passenger than in an autorickshaw.
The study, which was also published in a peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Research, revealed that the probability of catching COVID-19 infections is reduced by over 250 percent in a non-AC taxi, considering that the windows are rolled down, then an air-conditioned taxi.
The study was conducted by Darpan Das and Gurumurthy Ramachandran and is titled “Risk analysis of different transport vehicles in India during COVID-19 pandemic”.
Das and Ramachandran in their study calculated the chances of an individual contracting COVID-19 infection in four vehicles, which are commonly used in Indian metropolises. These modes of transportation were AC taxi, non-AC taxi, bus and auto-rickshaw. The study read the probability of an individual contracting infection at various ranges of ventilation rates.
The study also stated that “The low infection rates in public transportation systems can be maintained by including mandatory face masks; disinfecting trains and buses; and ramping and staggering businesses service work hours to reduce rush-hour crowding.”
(Credits: Risk analysis of different transport vehicles in India during COVID-19 pandemic research)
The findings of the study revealed that “the risk ranking of commute micro-environments is altered in different stages of the lockdown. The risk calculations clearly indicate that while the AC-taxi option is most preferable during normal periods to mitigate air pollution (in the middle- and low-income countries with poor air quality), this may not be a viable option during a pandemic. Further, autorickshaws with the highest air exchange rate show the lowest probability of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
The study followed the Wells-Riley model of airborne transmission of infectious diseases, which has been previously used for understanding the transmission of tuberculosis and measles.