by Steve Whittall
Head of R&D Airdri Group Ltd
Thinking back to 2019, it’s hard to believe the thought of a global pandemic was no more than an abstract possibility. Now, with astounding speed, it has become our new reality.
One thing is clear, our view of infection control is significantly different than it was twelve months ago. Going forward a continued focus on infection control will be required to help reduce the occurrence and spread of new and existing pathogens.
What is infection control?
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention defines infection control as “preventing or stopping the spread of infections in healthcare settings”. To effectively manage a pandemic, three tactical functions must be in place; the first, medicine, deals with patient disease management and treatment protocols, the second, medical science, which investigates the pathogen itself and develops new vaccines and treatments. The third is public health, which uses a variety of analytical techniques to determine how best to respond to an outbreak or pandemic and how to prepare for future events.
It is arguable that, over the last 200 years, public health has been responsible for saving more lives than the medical profession. The basic tools of public health for dealing with an outbreak are simple yet undeniably effective when followed correctly together, they are:
- Social distancing
To prepare for any future outbreaks advanced preparation is essential and by using and understanding the basics of infection control, it is possible to mitigate the effect that outbreaks, and pandemics can have on our communities, economies, and society as a whole.
What happens next?
Since the Wuhan strain was identified in 2019, the virus has mutated around 25 times and will continue doing so.
For the pandemic to end the virus must either be eliminated worldwide, most scientists believe this to be near impossible to achieve, or immunity must be built up through infection and recovery or effective vaccines. The broad estimate for effective herd immunity is between 60%-80% population immunity.
Covid will most likely be with us going forward, much like the flu. The period of immunity after infection or vaccination will determine the frequency of outbreaks, i.e., if a vaccine provides two years of immunity then we may expect Covid outbreaks every other year.
Disease X is the sinister name used by WHO to represent the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease. The most likely culprits for a pandemic are zoonotic viruses, those that make the species jump from animal to human.
There are several routes to zoonotic transmission, the common factor is close contact, consumption of animals or animal products combined with deforestation and habitat encroachment. A report from the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Livestock Research Institute identified the seven drivers of zoonotic transmission risk as:
- Overexploitation of wildlife
- Demand for animal protein
- Climate change
- Food supply chains
- Travel and transport
- Agricultural intensification
The risk of common infections
There is a multitude of commonly acquired infections in the workplace, care homes, hospitals, schools resulting in enormous costs to businesses and the UK economy as a whole. These infections have been with us for many years and, in the case of flu and the common cold, will be with us for many years to come. For bacterial infections, there is the added concern that antibiotic resistance will only magnify the problem.
These infections include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Common cold
Challenges we may face
Clearly, as individuals, business owners, and members of society we each have a part to play in public health now and in the future.
We need to ensure that we follow and support recommended infection control protocols such as PPE, social distancing, handwashing, and sanitation. All of these will assist in reducing contamination risks. Even with a vaccine, it will still be prudent to maintain the hand washing and sanitisation disciplines that have been developed over this last year. As stated, the likelihood that Covid will remain endemic is high, as is the probability of a new pandemic. Also, the continuance of flu and colds is certain, so any actions taken to minimise infections is simply common sense.
The challenge with effective infection control is that it demands strict adherence to established protocols, not only personal hygiene and handwashing but also surface and air sanitisation.
This is often accomplished by rapid filtered air changes and regular surface cleaning regimes, these solutions have limited efficacy as, in many cases, it is often not practical to have efficient and effective air changes in small to mid-sized applications. Additionally, surface cleaning techniques are, by their nature, ineffective as they are quick-fix solutions that begin to degrade immediately after the cleaning process has finished.
A way forward
The sanitising of ambient air and all exposed surfaces is a key component in maintaining effective infection control levels.
The Airdri SteraSpace product approaches infection control by ensuring that the environment is hostile to all pathogens. It provides continuous 24hr protection against airborne and surface contamination.
The Airdri SteraSpace range of air-purifiers use four technologies to ensure a virus and bacteria-free environment.
- Germicidal UN
- Super Oxide Ions
- Hydroxyl Ions
- Triatomic Oxygen
Combined, these technologies are deadly to microorganisms but harmless to humans.
The efficacy of the SteraSpace sanitising technology has been validated by Public Health England, SGS labs, ALS labs, and many other third-party test laboratories.
To discuss how an air purification system can help your business when it comes to controlling infection levels, get in touch with our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org/ or call +44 (0)1865 882330.