Airborne viruses will be called "pathogens that transmit through the air” under new terminology the World Health Organization hopes will end a scientific rift that hampered the early response to COVID-19.

After two years of consultations involving over 100 scientists, a WHO-led working group agreed to the term to describe diseases caused by infectious particles that typically multiply in the respiratory tract and spread from the nose and throat of an infected person while they breathe, speak, sing, cough or sneeze.

Yet the announcement was rejected by prominent scientists, including UC San Diego’s Kimberly Prather and Oxford University’s Trish Greenhalgh, who criticized the agency’s continued avoidance of the term "airborne.”