Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, told reporters in Geneva that they were checking on "the exact nature of the change, if any" in the USA agency's stance concerning transmission via aerosols.
The ever-looming threat, Trump's public undermining of the CDC chief and Redfield's tendency to fold to the White House are taking a toll on CDC staff, from top to bottom, employees say.
The UN health agency still believes the disease is primarily spread through droplets, but in enclosed crowded spaces with inadequate ventilation, aerosol transmission can occur, said Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's emergencies programme.
With fall's cool temperatures ahead and more people likely heading indoors, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that there is "growing evidence" that the coronavirus can spread beyond 6 feet, particularly in indoor environments without good ventilation.
The virus spreads "through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes", the new CDC guidance said.
As the government's leading infectious disease expert, Fauci has been a realist about the dangers of the coronavirus but also optimistic about the prospects for a vaccine.
"That has to be approved by the White House", he said of the FDA guidance. The news comes as recent polls show Americans are increasingly skeptical about the vaccine process. "We haven't seen the data from the clinical trials, and we won't until they come to us".
CDC updates, again, guidelines on testing people without coronavirus symptoms
But for months, agency officials said little about aerosolized particles.
"We feel strongly that if we have a combination of adherence to the public health measures together with a vaccine. we may be able to turn around this awful pandemic which we have been experiencing", Fauci said. The FDA declined to comment when a CNN reporter asked about the president's remarks.
Earlier in the week, CDC Director Robert Redfield told Congress that face masks were "more guaranteed to protect" against the virus than the vaccine, which he said wouldn't be available until late in 2021.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn pledged that career scientists, not politicians, will decide whether any coronavirus vaccine meets clearly stated standards that it works and is safe.
In an ongoing effort to politicize the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that unnamed officials had plotted a "political hit" and were conspiring to slow vaccine development to hinder his reelection bid.
Redfield and Hahn defended their agencies against criticism of their handling of the pandemic, telling the committee they were using science as their guide, not politics. "It's just misinformation", said the president.
He said that science will guide their decisions and FDA will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that.
As the Coronavirus pandemic enters the ninth month, there has been great debate about how the virus spreads. Nationwide, the USA is averaging more than 43,000 new cases per day - about double what the country was averaging back in June when lockdown restrictions were easing.
"Masks are still our number one line of defense", said Dr. Mittal.
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