The airline industry has undoubtedly been one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus as people abandoned trips on tightly packed airplanes to avoid exposure. This almost immediate world-wide drop in air travel in early 2020 presented researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to study how emissions from air travel affect the air we breathe.
Associate Professor Joe Brown is among 60 researchers who have created a global collaborative to learn more about the spread of Covid-19 through wastewater. In a paper published in Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers explained that RNA from the coronavirus is shed in the feces of those infected with Covid-19. This allows researchers to survey sewage for virus RNA, a process they refer to as wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE).
COVID-19 is one of the biggest challenges the airline industry has ever faced. Airlines have never before seen such a dramatic and sustained decline in air passenger demand. The industry has previously grounded fleets during times of emergencies, such as for hurricanes or earthquakes or the 9/11 terrorist attacks — but never has it needed to reduce capacity by 80–90 percent and sustain such reductions for months.