As healthcare and other sectors grapple with issue of people sharing indoor spaces, research suggests disinfected air can prevent the spread of Covid-19
On the morning of 4 February 2020, the massive, sleek shape of the Diamond Princess cruise ship appeared in the port of Yokohama, Japan. It was an unscheduled stop.
Three days previously, a man disembarking the ship had tested positive for Covid-19. Already sailing in Japanese waters, the Diamond Princess was immediately quarantined at Yokohama with a total of 3,711 people on board. All passengers were tested and confined to their cabins (many of which have no windows or balconies).
One can only imagine the tedium, anxiety and spiralling panic in those cooped-up cabins as more than 700 people on board became infected with the virus. A total of 12 people died before the last remaining passengers were allowed off the ship on 16 February.
Air quality an infection risk
As other ships fell victim to the virus – as of May 2020, more than 40 cruise ships had reported positive cases – a question arose. If passengers were isolating in their cabins, i.e. not touching contaminated surfaces or in contact with one another, how were so many becoming infected? Part of the answer, of course, is the air they were breathing.
Although respiratory droplets are still considered the primary transmission route for the virus – hence the emphasis on hygiene and social distancing measures – there is increasing awareness of the ‘aerosol’ or airborne spread of the virus that comes from dried particles dispersing over long distances and circulating in the air.
This leaves not only cruise ships but hospitals and other healthcare facilities, residential care homes, schools, public transport hubs and industrial facilities urgently pondering their air quality and building ventilation.
Disinfected air can prevent virus spread
As countries look to emerge from lockdown, any organisation wondering how to deal with large numbers of people sharing indoor spaces will be interested in mounting research that suggests clean, disinfected air can prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The Dublin-based tech firm, part of the global WellAir company, has just announced hugely significant independent test results for its most powerful solution, the Defend 1050. The patented, portable air disinfection device has been proven to reduce MS2 Bacteriophage (a surrogate for Covid-19) by 99.99% in just 15 minutes.
How the Defend 1050 works
The Defend 1050 combines rapid air dis-infection and purification in a single portable device. Designed for continuous, rapid air cleaning in large spaces, especially where there is a high risk of infection, the Defend 1050 uses ultra-low energy plasma technology combined with a triple-stage filtration system.
As Novaerus plasma is a non-selective killing technology, the product represents a unique and safe way of eliminating airborne viruses 24/7, vastly reducing the risk of disease and infectious outbreaks.
“Infection can be transmitted on air currents over distances, by direct and indirect contact, or by a combination of all three routes,” says Dr Felipe Soberon, Chief Technology Officer at WellAir, the parent company of Novaerus. “Independent tests prove that the Defend 1050 is ideal for mitigating the risk of airborne dissemination of infection and contamination of surfaces and hands by reducing the bioburden in the air.”
To test the Defend 1050, Aerosol Research and Engineering (ARE) Laboratories investigated how effectively the device could remove small aerosolized viral particles from the air, simulating how the device might work on capturing the particles that carry infectious viruses.
The GLP-certified lab performed the experiments in its US Bioaerosol Test Chamber, which measures 16m3 – about the size of a small room. The Defend 1050 was placed in this sealed environment with aerosolized MS2 bacteriophage, commonly used as a surrogate for the influenza virus and now considered a surrogate for Covid-19.
“Obliteration” of airborne virus
At the 15-minute mark, test results showed that the Defend 1050 had reduced the MS2 bacteriophage by 99.99%, almost completely obliterating the airborne bacteriophage.
“The methods used by labs like Aerosol Research and Engineering are informed by consensus standards and established by international bodies and scientists,” says Dr Kevin Devlin, CEO at WellAir. “We’re confident that the tests are indicative of how effective the Defend 1050 can be when removing viruses, like coronavirus, from the air.”
The efficiency of the Defend 1050 has also been recognised by Chinese health authorities and registered on China’s official platform for disinfection products. Many hospitals worldwide have also installed Novaerus technology to help reduce the transmission of Covid-19 among both staff and patients.
As organisations and Governments grapple with infection prevention, Novaerus is part of the ‘Irish tech charge’ leading the fight against the virus. As well as healthcare facilities, the technology is being used in senior living facilities, schools, and other buildings in more than 40 countries worldwide.
“To successfully control the spread of pathogens and viruses, we need to close the infection control loop of hands, surfaces and air,” says Dr Kevin Devlin, CEO at WellAir. “Our unique technology is a facility’s first line of defence against infectious outbreaks.”