Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ to protect ourselves against the Coronavirus threat along with the wearing of face masks, frequent hand washing and social distancing felt like alien concepts a year ago, but for many these things have begun to feel routine.
Nonetheless, the approval of 3 vaccines with more to come have brought a shinning light to people anticipating an end to these measures in the immediate future.
However, scientists say that additional preventative measures are still key in the fight against COVID-19, air and surface purification systems being one of them.
For mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity (indirect immunity caused by the majority of the population being immune thanks either to vaccination or having been infected) more than 70% of the population needs to have been vaccinated.
In fact, leading infectious disease scientist Dr Anthony Fauci has said: “If you really want true herd immunity, where you get a blanket of protection over the country … you want about 75 to 85 percent of the country to get vaccinated.”
There are two main challenges to achieving a fast vaccine rollout across the world:
Other challenges are to do with our understanding of the novel coronavirus – we do not yet know whether the mRNA vaccines are able to limit transmission of the virus, or how long an individual will remain immune to COVID-19 after being vaccinated.
Handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks still remain the routine measures that we all need to continue in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. Below is a little more information about how some of these work.
However, there are additional measures that can be taken to provide protection against virus transmission, such as air and surface purification systems.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) now recommend wearing cloth masks over the mouth and nose when in public spaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Research supports this.
A study for Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science found that cloth face coverings are effective in reducing source virus transmission (protecting others from an infected person) as well as protecting the wearer.
An experiment that used high-speed video recordings was able to conclude that, whilst saying a simple phrase generated hundreds of droplets when the mouth was uncovered, almost all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a washcloth.
Meanwhile, a US study compairing COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in 15 States found that mask-wearing led to an immediate slowdown in daily COVID-19 infections. This trend also became more evident over time.
Everyone knows the importance of washing their hands, but evidence shows that this is also a major factor in the fight against cold and flu viruses.
Elizabeth Scott, PhD, Co-director at the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons University in Boston explains: “You can’t necessarily control what you touch. You can’t control who else touched it. But you can look after your own hands.”
Washing your hands with soap and water is a simple action that works as a powerful tool against germs and diseases in two ways.
Scott says: “The first thing that’s happening is that you’re physically removing things from your hands. At the same time, for certain agents, the soap will actually be busting open that agent, breaking it apart.”
Firstly, coronaviruses are coated in a layer of fat (known as a lipid envelope) that makes them resistant to just water.
Soap works to break the fat apart and attack the virus cell directly in the same way that washing up liquid works on a greasy pan.
Second, the manual action of rubbing your hands together works to physically scrape and remove the cells from your skin.
If you can’t wash your hands then hand sanitiser is a good secondary option.
Most hand sanitisers have high alcohol content (in fact, you should only use a hand sanitiser if it is a minimum of 62% alcohol) which works in the same way as soap to destroy the lipid membrane.
Research has proven that air cleaning systems can be a useful tool, although filter based passive systems take many hours to be effective, require filters that need to be changed, offer little protection against new contaminants and have low coverage areas.
But the Airius PureAir system with its active natural cleaning agents sterilises the whole space at the same time, effectively improving indoor air quality by removing viruses, dust, mould, bacteria and other airborne pollutants, not just in the air, but also on surfaces.
But can an air purifier stop you getting COVID?
The Airius PureAir range has been tested and shown to be up to 99.9% effective at neutralising the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
As such, the Airius PureAir system is a worthwhile investment for those looking to reopen their buildings as soon as possible amidst the current pandemic, as well as for longer term solutions to the day-to-day challenges of maintaining clean indoor spaces in the fight against illness and allergies.
As an added bonus, the PureAir system also reduces CO2 emissions by 20-50%, recycles the heat produced from machinery and lighting and potentially reduces heating and cooling costs by up to 50%.