Prevention of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases that spread through the air

Friday 24 February 2023, 10:30 am
K.S.J. Vanden Driessche drs.
prof. dr. R. de Groot, prof. dr. G. Theron (Stellenbosch University,ZA)
dr. M.I. de Jonge

This PhD research was the first to demonstrate that face masks do not only stop large droplets, but also reduce the aerosol formation by 90%. The air escaping through the gaps between face and mask as such hardly contains any aerosol. At least, when we cough. Contrarily, during talking or just breathing probably a bit more aerosol escapes. This can be explained by Newton’s laws of motion and more particularly by the force of impaction which is powerful when we cough, because particles are being accelerated when being coughed out (F = m x a; force equals mass multiplied with acceleration). In case of COVID this is unfortunate because COVID seems to spread most effectively by vocalisations (talking, shouting and singing). On top of that, we often take our mask off when using our voice. Before COVID, tuberculosis was the single infectious agent claiming most casualties worldwide. Tuberculosis appears to be mainly transmitted through coughing.

Koen Vanden Driessche obtained his medical degree, magna cum laude, in Leuven (2005) after which he worked in Kinshasa (the DRC), did a pediatric residency at Radboud university medical center and infectious diseases fellowships at B.C. Children’s Hospital (Vancouver) and at Sophia Children’s Hospital (Rotterdam). Since 2019 he is working as a Pediatric Infectious Diseases specialist in Antwerp University Hospital.