The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday pulled revised guidance from its website that had said airborne transmission was thought to be the main way the coronavirus spreads, saying it was “posted in error.”
The sudden change came after the new guidance had been quietly posted on the CDC website on Friday.
“CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19),” the CDC wrote. “Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted.”
The CDC guidance on the coronavirus is now the same as it was before the revisions.
The change and the the reversal comes as the CDC comes under extensive scrutiny over whether decisions by and guidance from government scientists are being affected by politics.
Just last week, President Trump contradicted CDC Director Robert Redfield on the timing of a vaccine and the necessity of wearing masks.
Public health experts were pleased with the updated guidance, saying evidence shows COVID-19 can be spread through the air and that the public should be made aware of that fact.
The World Health Organization issued a warning in July, saying that coronavirus could be spread through people talking, singing and shouting after hundreds of scientists released a letter urging it to do so.
The CDC said the guidance posted Friday was a “draft version of proposed changes.”
It is not clear if that draft will eventually become the CDC’s guidance, or if it will go through additional changes.
CNN first reported the new guidance on Sunday.
The now-deleted guidance had noted that the coronavirus could spread through airborne particles when an infected person “coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breaths.”
“There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes),” the agency had written. “In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.”
“These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection,” the deleted guidance said. “This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”