WHO and miasma theory

Coming from asthma and air pollution research I have supported aerosol research and mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic long before the WHO.


What I did not know is  the historical background for the hand washing videos of Maria Van Kerkhove.  WIRED has the interesting story that goes far back into history.

Part of medical rhetoric is understanding why certain ideas take hold and others don’t. So as spring turned to summer, Randall started to investigate how Wells’ contemporaries perceived him. That’s how she found the writings of Alexander Langmuir, the influential chief epidemiologist of the newly established CDC. Like his peers, Langmuir had been brought up in the Gospel of Personal Cleanliness, an obsession that made handwashing the bedrock of US public health policy. He seemed to view Wells’ ideas about airborne transmission as retrograde, seeing in them a slide back toward an ancient, irrational terror of bad air—the “miasma theory” that had prevailed for centuries. Langmuir dismissed them as little more than “interesting theoretical points.”