Alcohol is a potential contributor to the spread of COVID-19, according to new research

As the New Coronavirus (NCCV) ravaged the world, rumors began to circulate in some countries and regions that drinking alcohol could protect against NCCV, causing people to lose their sense of defense in panic and causing irreversible tragedies.

In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning refuting the claim that “quoting high-intensity alcohol can kill” the new coronavirus, saying that “alcohol disrupts the human immune system, increases health risks, and can cause a range of infectious and non-infectious diseases, so alcohol intake should be reduced as much as possible at all times. Alcohol intake should be minimized at all times, especially during an epidemic. But the impact of alcohol on the New Crown epidemic goes far beyond this, as the anti-utopian state of shutting down and social distancing is becoming the dominant form of human socialization due to the global spread of the New Crown epidemic. However, ways such as drinking and gathering clearly run counter to the currently promoted lifestyle, creating a breeding ground for the virus to spread.

In a recent article published in the top journal PNAS, researchers at Harvard University found that alcohol narrows physical distance between strangers, leading to the spread of the virus in new communities.

Image courtesy of WHO website

The study is one of the largest human alcohol trials to date. A total of 212 participants were assigned to different experimental conditions and then explored the effects of alcohol on physical distance through a randomized design and computer vision methods.

Participants drank alcohol or beverages in the company of strangers, and then computer vision algorithms were used every 10 seconds to identify the location of each participant’s face, resulting in more than 20,000 observation-worthy data sets.

The study found that participants who consumed non-alcoholic beverages were not significantly closer in physical distance beforehand. And when the participants were slightly intoxicated, the physical distance between the two decreased by about 1 cm every two minutes.

Computer vision algorithm identifies relative position of participants’ bodies from binary interaction video

For this reason, the researchers envisioned that the distance between people might be closer if the participants in the experiment were not in a specific experimental setting, but in a crowded bar or a noisy restaurant.

In conclusion, this study suggests that alcohol facilitates the spread of the virus, which contradicts societal norms of isolation and may have significant public health implications.