The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday abruptly reverted to its previous guidance about how coronavirus is transmitted, removing language about airborne transmission it had posted just days earlier.
“A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website. CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted,” Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesman, said in a response emailed to CNN.
The guidance pertained to the way the novel coronavirus is spread. While it’s known it can spread through droplets among people standing less than 6 feet apart, research has continued to explore how the virus suspends in aerosolized particles in the air and transmitted to people more than 6 feet away.
The CDC transmission guidance acknowledging airborne transmission had been quietly posted on Friday, according to the agency’s website. CNN was first to report the change on Sunday. The CDC responded to CNN just before noon on Monday to say it was reverting to the previous guidance.
A federal official familiar with the situation said there was no political pressure involved in the change.
“This was totally the CDC’s doing,” the official said. “It was posted by mistake. It wasn’t ready to be posted.”
The official said the guideline change was published without being thoroughly reviewed by CDC experts.
“Somebody hit the button and shouldn’t have,” the official said.
The agency tried to further clarify what it meant by aerosol transmission, the official said. “It can occur, but it’s not the way the virus is primarily being transmitted,” the official said. But in the effort to say that, it was written in such a way “that it’s being understood to mean it’s more transmissible than we thought, which is not the case.”
The official added that the guidance is “getting revised,” but didn’t say when the revision would be posted to the CDC’s website.
How CDC’s guidance changed
Despite several studies that have shown the novel coronavirus can spread through s