Treat COVID-19 Like A Bad Fart

The simplest way to understand all the guidelines


From the anime Butt Detective

We need to treat COVID-19 like a bad fart. The simplest guideline is to imagine that everyone around you has deadly, contagious, and uncontrollable gas. Everybody’s just cutting loose, and it kills. You’ll immediately know the right response. Stay 2m away. If you’re stuck inside, crack a window. If at all possible, just stay home.

See? You don’t need complicated guidelines. Just imagine a wave of global flatulence and you’ll know exactly what to do.

I’ve gone through Korea’s reopening guidelines in detail, but it’s honestly easier to just think of them this way. The world has just ripped one. Act accordingly.

The science of spread

A cough. Gary Settles, Penn State

COVID-19 does not literally spread through farts. It seems to spread primarily through droplets — coughs, sneezes, etc. These are also perturbations of the air, just on the other end.

What researchers have found is that these face farts tend to spread most offensively in closed spaces. Just have a look at this study from a Guangzhou restaurant.

Restaurant tables and air conditioning airflow at the site of an outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus disease, Guangzhou, China, 2020. Red circles indicate seating of future case-patients; yellow-filled red circle indicates index case-patient.

The index case A1 (yellow) was asymptomatic, so either lightly coughing or just breathing. His droplets spread to everyone in line with the AC (presumably bouncing off the wall as well) but not anyone else.

Hence, the right behavior, in this case, would have been to sit further apart, and crack a window.

Here’s a study of spread in a Korean call center:

From the Korea CDC

The KCDC tested nearly 1,000 people in the building and infections were largely contained to those sharing the same room. The same A/C’d room, recirculating air.



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at