COVID-19 has now been part of our lives for over two years, and much of the world is now trying to move into a ‘living with COVID-19’ way of life. This has its benefits in areas such as the economy and personal mental health, but we are still facing a risk of the virus mutating and causing more waves of infections due to variants and relaxation of precautionary measures.

Understandably focus up to now has mainly been on creating and distributing vaccines to slow the national and international spread of the virus. But as we get used to ‘living with COVID-19’, what progress has been made in terms of finding new ways to help suppress future outbreaks in more localised conditions?

Research and tests are beginning to happen on methods that can help reduce infection rates such as air purification treatments. This includes UV light-based systems and high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration devices.

COVID-19 is an airborne virus, and much interest has been shown in how air purification applications can help create safer air quality – especially in densely packed or poorly ventilated environments such as schools, hospitals and nightclubs.

It is worth noting that the use of UV light in negating harmful viruses is well proven and this includes successfully rendering harmless SARS_CoV viruses. So, expectations are high that the COVID-19 variant will suffer the same result upon exposure to UV-C light.

What research has happened so far?

In April 2021 the University of Nevada Reno announced they have conducted laboratory-based testing using UV-C light on the COVID-19 virus*. Results showed complete virus inactivation under all the tested conditions. The results “confirmed that the UVC-LED disinfection system can provide rapid, reliable, safe, and complete inactivation of human coronavirus from surfaces…within 8 seconds at 5 feet distance.”

Here in the UK in September 2021, the Government announced a trial in 30 primary schools in Bradford** where 10 schools have HEPA devices installed, 10 schools have UV light devices running and 10 schools are the control group with no devices used.

HEPA devices use filtUVC light destroys DNA, rendering pathogens harmless because they cannot reproduce.ers which technically only collect active viruses instead of destroying them and therefore need to be replaced regularly. UV air purifiers inactivate viruses. The Bradford schools study is now fully underway and we await the results with interest.

Early last year in January/February 2021 tests on virus levels was also conducted in two repurposed COVID-19 units in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK***. Airborne SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the ward on all five days before activation of a HEPA/UV combination system but on none of the five days when the HEPA/UV filter was operational. SARS-CoV-2 was again detected on four out of five days when the filter was switched off.

The conclusion of this short study (which is still undergoing peer review) was that the data demonstrates the feasibility of removing SARS-CoV-2 from the air of repurposed ‘surge’ wards and suggests that air purification devices may help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2. The report states that portable air filtration systems, that combine high-efficiency particulate filtration and ultraviolet (UV) light sterilisation, may be a scalable solution for removing respirable SARS-CoV-2.

Are we there yet?

As can be seen from the above research, it’s early days in providing definitive test result data, but the indications do appear to be strong that using UV light devices as part of a proactive approach to public and employee safety will help to render COVID-19 virus particles harmless.

Alpha-Purify offers a range of UV products for use in air purification applications. This includes our UVETTA range of air purification devices. The range comes in three options – Portable, Recessed and Suspended. Find out more here.

* Ref: https://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/news/2021/uvc-test-on-coronavirus
** Ref: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-58190189
*** Ref: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.09.16.21263684v1