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A Paradigm shift in infectious disease transmission research: A collaborative project with Bourouiba Group MIT

From the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, the attitude of the scientific community towards the theory of airborne disease transmission has been victim to the pendulum swing of history around the large vs small droplets dichotomy, which remains at the core of the classification systems of routes of respiratory disease transmission adopted by the WHO and other agencies. But the recent works by Bourouiba and colleagues have demonstrated the transmission of respiratory droplets as a multiphase gas-cloud phenomenon, a paradigm shift in the field. It is evident that authoritative agencies and policymakers failed to keep track of the paradigm shift since in the primary phase of the current pandemic WHO declared COVID19 is not airborne. That decision not only inflicted a strong reaction in the scientific community but also added confusion to the public understanding of COVID transmission. This project aims to re-address these issues to clear the confusion both in the scientific community and the public domain with the help of visual storytelling and public engagement. In collaboration with graphic artist Argha Manna and the faculty lead Prof. Lydia Bourouiba (Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Lab, MIT) have already experimented with the form of comics to translate experimental data on fluid dynamics of disease transmission into visual narratives for education purposes. As an extension of that ongoing collaboration, this project is proposed under the category of visiting artist grant, which includes developing comics, interactive public displays and lecture panels on the past and present of infectious disease transmission.

Check our project website at the MIT-CAST page here

This comics is a summary of the project proposal in visual form, submitted to the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology (MIT-CAST).

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