Brisbane scientist Lidia Morawska among Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world

© Provided by ABC Health Lidia Morawska is based at the Queensland University of Technology. (Supplied)

Brisbane professor Lidia Morawska has been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for helping highlight the airborne spread of COVID-19.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) scientist was recognised for standing out “among peers for her work in recognising the importance of aerosol transmission and marshalling the data that would convince the World Health Organisation and other authoritative bodies”. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Professor Morawska advocated for authorities to recognise the importance of airborne transmission of COVID-19 instead of focusing on transmission from respiratory droplets on surfaces.

She led a group of more than 200 international experts in an open letter appealing for recognition of airborne transmission from the medical community and authorities worldwide. 

Professor Morawska told ABC Radio Brisbane that airborne transmission was a very important message that had not been presented to the world, which had somewhat changed following their work.

“There is a long way to go, but I’m hoping this recognition will bring us a step closer to clean indoor air with as little virus as possible,” she said.

“They were not receptive and I would say they are still not very receptive.

“What I have been advising public health authorities in Queensland and nationally is, first of all, there is a need to announce, a very clear, loud announcement, [that] airborne transmission is an important mode of the disease transmission.

“We need to be aware of this, we need to do something.”

Push for action

Professor Morawska said she acknowledged that action would be ad hoc during a pandemic. 

“But some of these ad-hoc actions, like opening the windows, solve the problem,” she said.

“In some cases it doesn’t — we need to be more sophisticated — but awareness that this is a problem, this is the key.

“Then the questions are what to do to protect ourselves or those who we are responsible for and in all kinds of environments, schools, restaurants, shopping centres, offices and so on.”

Is this a spam email?

The distinguished professor is the Director of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health at QUT, a World Health Organisation (WHO) collaborating centre.

She said she was notified about the Time magazine recognition by email about 10 days before the announcement.

“First, I checked is this a real email, is this spam?”

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