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Physics of COVID-19 Transmission

Learn about the scientific principles behind the airborne transmission of COVID-19, and how quantitative safety guideline may be derived to assess the risk of transmission.

There is one session available:

After a course session ends, it will be archived.
Starts Jul 23
Ends Nov 30
Estimated 6 weeks
5–10 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

Since the beginning of the pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), there has been significant public confusion and scientific controversy over the modes of transmission and the most effective methods to protect against them, as reflected in changes in public health guidance. Official safety guidelines have emphasized surface disinfection and strict social distancing, despite growing scientific evidence for respiratory aerosol transmission, extending well beyond these arbitrary distances.

In this course, we will teach you the scientific principles to quantitatively assess the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 in an indoor space based on various factors such as the occupancy, the time spent in the space, the dimensions of the room, the use of face masks, ventilation, air filtration, humidity, the respiratory activities involved, and so forth. You will learn how each factor will quantitatively affect the rate of transmission, but most importantly, how these factors interact, which is not yet reflected in current public health guidance. The technical contents and all assessments are accessible to anyone with some general undergraduate-level knowledge in STEM, but there are also optional derivations intended for graduate students and professionals. There are also interview videos intended for learners at all levels which assume no particular quantitative scientific knowledge.

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At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: Health & Safety
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:

    Introductory science or engineering at the undergraduate level; some familiarity with ordinary differential equations (required only for learners interested in completing all assessments)

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Respiratory pathogens
  • Airborne disease transmission in a well-mixed room
  • Epidemiological models
  • Safety guideline for COVID-19
  • Beyond the well-mixed room

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

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