The Importance of a Virus Prevention Plan
Although it took many months and much information, the CDC and other authorities have finally recognized that respiratory infections are caused by pathogens emitted through the nose or mouth of an infected person and transported to others. These pathogens are housed in fluid-based particles of varying sizes which are transmitted via human aerosol that naturally occurs during breathing, speaking, sneezing and coughing.1
The highest exposure comes from close proximity to others, but COVID-19 infections have been firmly established to occur within interior spaces shared with others who may be asymptomatic, through the inhalation of airborne virus-laden particles.1 We now know this airborne transmission is the overwhelming mode of numerous respiratory infections. There is also strong evidence to suggest that typical interior areas and shared space in businesses, schools, restaurants and even apartment buildings have been the epicenter of the spread of the pandemic, making interior space the primary concern not just for the current COVID-19 pandemic, but for future respiratory spreads as people return to some degree of normalcy at the workplace, in schools and during public activities.2
In the past, government health regulations have focused legislation and rules around food safety, sanitation and drinking water while almost universally ignoring interior air quality and circulation. This limited understanding of interior-space, airborne spread directly led to many of the issues found during the COVID-19 pandemic and increased proliferation of the virus among groups. Simply put, there was no way to detect transmittable airborne viruses within an interior space, especially if there were asymptomatic people responsible for the transmission. As a result, there were almost no engineering-based measures to limit airborne transmissions in public or private buildings despite the tremendous financial loss resulting from mandatory closures of buildings and workplaces.3
Although there are indoor space guidelines established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers that outline minimum ventilation requirements for acceptable indoor air quality, there are no ventilation guidelines or standards to critically control the concentration of pollutants indoors.4 There are also no recommendations or standards to mitigate bacteria or viruses in indoor air, which creates conditions favorable to growth and spread of transmittable contaminants.
It’s clear that society must adopt a new approach to interior space ventilation. However, changing out interior space ventilation in combination with much needed efforts to improve access to outdoor air for groups and gatherings, creates a daunting challenge for owners of existing space that would take years and trillions of dollars to correct. Meanwhile the viruses are still here. There are many unvaccinated people and it’s currently unknown how long the vaccine antibodies will last until booster shots are necessary again. The return of people to indoor spaces is bound to accelerate illnesses again, including yearly flu epidemics, raising concerns about another episode of disastrous public health crisis and crippling productivity impacts.5
In the interim, as air quality regulations are changed for new construction and investigated for retrofit systems, the best way to assure public safety in interior spaces is to develop a specific “BioVirus Prevention Plan” (BVPP) strategy that employs both personal health screening as well as interior room screening, especially where groups of people congregate such as classrooms, conference rooms, restrooms, restaurants, churches, lunch rooms, gyms, movie theatres, public transportation, vending areas, reception and waiting areas and more. Every school, business, church and public place should have an active BVPP in place to reassure its constituents while lowering potential liabilities that could occur in a group spread situation. BVPP’s also help avoid the loss of public faith and productivity in businesses and student performance.6
What’s a BioVirus Prevention Plan?
The first step of a BVPP strategy is to continue to restrict access of known sick individuals to group areas. One of the most efficient ways of identifying such people is through accurate core body temperature screening. Regardless of the reason for a high temperature, individuals showing an elevated core body temperature should be restricted from group settings. The second step of the BVPP is to also screen interior spaces in real time, especially those where groups of people regularly congregate, such as vending areas, conference rooms, classrooms, reception areas and bathrooms. This is a crucial step because certain individual spreaders are asymptomatic and may pass through temperature or health screenings, allowing them to then transmit their virus in indoor spaces where there may be unvaccinated individuals, including children, those who are immune compromised or individuals with declining antibodies. As virus variants promulgate and the virus adapts while people return to indoor group settings, the likelihood of increased group spread can be very high unless these two steps can be employed to limit outbreak. India’s relatively light reaction to the first COVID-19 wave, combined with disastrous consequences of a new variant, shows the severity of risk of neglecting to implement a sound BVPP plan.
During the pandemic, some offline air sampling was employed, but its effectiveness was limited by its lengthy process. Offline air sampling required that a sample be collected and then sent to a labratory for analysis. Results were not known for several days, which is approximately the same time frame as daily testing of staff using COVID-19 testing procedures. In both of these scenarios, it would take days to identify the problem and by the time it was identified, countless people might have been infected through the spread of the virus indoors. Now, innovative room screening and monitoring technology has been developed and tested to accelerate the process of identifying airborne viral contamination within an indoor space, then disinfecting it and screening the occupants appropriately to stop group spread in its tracks. This new technology creates a path forward to public confidence in the organization and limits potential liability claims by not having an effective BVPP strategy.
ViraWarn room monitoring is the first indoor airborne virus detection device that identifies viruses quickly and easily to limit the spread of any spike protein virus such COVID-19 and influenza. The portable devices plug into the electrical sockets around the room and when properly placed in accordance with an active BVPP, can identify viruses in a room within three to five minutes of occupancy. The devices detect and activate when a room is occupied to optimize monitoring power. The device pulls room air through a collection chamber cartridge, then analyzes air particles and identifies the presence of viral particles. Unlike offline air collection test units that cost thousands of dollars and require multiple days to get results, these monitors cost significantly less and produce results instantaneously.
ViraWarn has undergone lab testing and was deployed for real-world testing during India’s recent COVID-19 crisis. Testing results have shown ViraWarn has an accuracy rate of 75-80 percent with respect to detecting virus particles in interior rooms, which is on par with current testing kits for humans. Patents have been filed regarding this novel technology which promises to be an integral part of any BVPP strategy for interior spaces.
ViraWarn is also committed to not only identifying viruses within interior space but also in improving short term interior air quality as well. Near term product releases will not only include interior air quality detection but will also include the measurement of carbon dioxide in the room, which can also be problematic with public health and could indicate conditions ripe for community spread. ViraWarn is also effective for monitoring, virus detection and air quality control for smaller personal spaces, such as desk areas and homes.
The third step of a short term BVPP is reconfiguring indoor ventilation to a new, elevated standard. Of course, this redefinition of interior ventilation to permit proper outside air balancing is a massive building infrastructure shift. HEPA filters can certainly trap viruses in their tracks but, unfortunately, indoors this means the virus has already been transmitted through the room.
What’s clear is that ViraWarn is absolutely necessary to trigger effective disinfecting and personal screening as the HEPA filters alone are only part of a comprehensive BVPP.
Contact your Opteev distributor, representative or sales office today for guidance on developing a suitable BioVirus Prevention Plan strategy for your particular application.
- “How Coronavirus Spreads.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html .
- Hadei, M., Hopke, P.K., Jonidi, A. and Shahsavani, A. (2020). “A Letter about the Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Based on the Current Evidence.” Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20:911-914. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.04.0158
- Morawska, Lidia, et al; “A paradigm shift to combat indoor respiratory infection.” Science, vol. 372, no. 6543, 2021, pp 689-691
- ASHRAE Position Document on Filtration and Air Cleaning, ASHRAE, January 29, 2015, www.ashrae.org/file%20library/about/position%20documents/filtration-and-air-cleaning-pd.pdf
- Lidia Morawska, Junji Cao, “Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2: The world should face the reality.” Environment International, vol. 139, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.105730.
- WHO, “Roadmap to Improve and Ensure Good Indoor Ventilation in the Context of COVID-19.” World Health Organization, 2021, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240021280