Virus-battling scientist named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021
A Polish scientist has been named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021 for her work on COVID-19.
Tarnów-born Dr. Lidia Morawska was listed in the ‘innovators’ section of Time’s list for “recognizing the importance of aerosol transmission and marshalling the data that would convince the World Health Organization and other authoritative bodies to do the same.”
The piece went on to praise her work for making closed environments’ such as schools and workplaces safer for people around the globe.
Working with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a contributor and advisor to WHO air quality-related guidelines since 1990, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck Morawska was tasked with leading a multidisciplinary group of 239 scientists on the significance of the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus-laden particles.
The group’s work was published in November last year with the recommendations being implemented by the WHO and national bodies such as the CDC (Center for Disease Control).
In her research paper, several key pieces of advice, that most of us will be very familiar with now, are laid out such as remaining 1 to 2 metres away from each other, preventing overcrowding in enclosed spaces such as public transport and recommending the use of germicidal ultraviolet lights.
Morawska concludes in the article that: “The measures that we propose offer more benefits than potential downsides, even if they can only be partially implemented.”
In May this year Morawska was again the lead scientist on the team who published their results on ‘A paradigm shift to combat indoor respiratory infection’ in the prestigious journal ‘Science’.
The article was a call to arms to governments and health organizations around the world, insisting that they treat airborne diseases, be it COVID or seasonal influenza, as seriously as they do food safety, sanitation or drinking.
The proposals being that there be stronger regulations and standards introduced regarding ‘building design and operation, pertaining to the air we breathe’.
In an interview with the Brisbane Times Dr. Morawska said: “In the 1800s there was a paradigm shift in thinking around clean water, countries moved to ensure clean drinking water and public health leaped forward as a result. We need to think of clean air in the same way, we should have virus-free air indoors.”
She also highlighted how helpful masks are as a last line of defence for high risk workers against the spread of COVID-19 but questioned the importance of hand sanitising and cleaning surfaces when the virus is predominantly in the air.
Instead she insisted that addressing ventilation issues could be the major factor in preventing recurring lockdowns.
The Morawska first moved from Poland to Canada to do postdoctoral research at McMaster University in Hamilton in 1987 and later at the University of Toronto.
Credited with nearly 1,000 scientific publications, her work has been focused on the impacts airborne particulate matter both on humans and the environment.
Since 2003 Morawska has worked as a Professor at Queensland University of Technology and last year became the Vice-Chancellor Fellow at the Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) at University of Surrey.