Beating the Latest Virus Variant With Fresh Clean Air
The latest news reports coming out of countries such as Israel and states such as Florida are so frightening. These two major locations were models of Pandemic control. But the pandemic has returned with a new Indian Delta variant. What will be the future of our world?
This variant is even more catchy than the original virus.
What is this poor world to do?
We cannot return to our homes in isolation once again for eighteen months.
Should we take the third vaccine?
Is it safe?
So many confusing questions are entering our lexicon after a few good months of freedom.
Can we afford to sacrifice this newfound and immensely appreciated freedom once again?
Are there practical ways besides vaccination to keep this scrooge at bay?
So far from what we are hearing those who are vaccinated are mostly not catching the new variant and those who are getting reinfected seem to be getting it mildly. The numbers of virus infected patients are increasing in Israel and throughout the world. The Delta variant is responsible for approximately 90% of the new cases diagnosed in July. This is quite distressing to hear. So how should a responsible citizen respond to the latest depressing virus news?
One Israeli experts cautions the world with these words, “We must learn to live with COVID-19”. The small young country of Israel was the model of ridding the world of the dreaded coronavirus. With its strict entry rules, overriding their most asset, tourism, and the purchase of millions of COVID-19 vaccines seemed to bring them into the forefront of winning the tough war on COVID-19. That is until the India Delta variant began its aggressive entry into this so-called protected country.
In fact, by April 18 of this year face masks requirements outdoors were canceled and schools reopened fully in Israel. International tourism was supposed to resume on July 1. Now that that Delta variant has reared its ugly head the fear of a fourth wave has thrown the country once again into isolation. In New York City, as well, vaccinated people will be the only ones allowed into public venues.
Manfred Green, the director of the University of Haifa’s international master’s program in global health leadership, has directed the world to rethink the way we look at these viruses and find a way to live with COVID-19. He compares the practical characteristics of the present world pandemic to the way the Spanish flu was dealt with in 1918. At that time there was no way to combat the virus other than masks and isolation. Today, thank G D, we have the vaccines which are over 90% effective. Manfred likened the variants to road accidents. There will always be some road accidents, but we don’t forbid driving. “Unfortunately,” explained Green, “there has never been a complete eradication of any disease from the world apart from smallpox”. The Re-emergence of diseases such as the measles come and go as long as there are people who are against vaccination. He predicts that the only way to prepare for future infections is to invest in infrastructure upgrades such as better air-filtration systems and improved ventilation devices in schools, public arenas, and private homes.
According to the CDC, as of June 2, 2021, a layered approach must be taken to reduce exposures to the variants of the COVID-19 virus. We still do not know all about this scrooge but what we do know is that it spreads more commonly indoors than outdoors where the particles of the virus are more saturated. By lowering the concentration of the virus with ventilation system upgrades it will be less likely for the particles to be inhaled into the lungs.
The good news is that when office and school buildings are reoccupied, completely new ventilation systems should not be necessary. Other upgrades in current systems will increase the delivery of clean fresh air while at the same time diluting the potential virus particles to weaken their entry into the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs of our citizens. Experienced HVAC professionals must be consulted as early on as possible to supply the venues with health – code compliant air quality indoors. Here are some of The CDC’s recommendations, which they label as tools needed to keep our citizens safe. Some of these cost zero and some of them cost money but they are all essential.
1) Increase the outdoor air flow into the buildings. Outdoor air dampers must be opened to maximum settings to eliminate or at least drastically reduce HVAC recirculation. These adjustments could be implemented more easily in mild weather however, if the weather turns cold an experienced HVAC professional must be hired to figure out an effective way to circulate the clean air.
2) Doors and windows should be open when weather permits and there are no safety risks.
3) While the windows are open, use fans to increase fresh air circulation. A fan placed securely in the window will remove the contaminated room air to the outside. In larger buildings gable fans and roof ventilators can be quite effective.
4) Make sure that your current ventilation system is working at optimum capacity. This is not the time to be frugal. Some ventilation systems have efficiency-controlled ventilation systems which shut off intermittently. Any demand-controlled ventilation system (DCV) that controls air flow based on habitation should be disconnected. In homes, there is a fan mode on the thermostat that should be put in the “on” position rather than the “auto” mode.
5) Continue ventilation operation in all rooms of a building even when the rooms are not in use. Clean air ventilation in rooms such as cooking areas and specifically restrooms are especially important in keeping out any bacteria and viruses.
6) HEPA fan filtration systems (high efficiency particulate air) increase air cleaning particularly in high-risk venues such as doctor’s offices and urgent care facilities where there is more of a chance that COVID-19 infected patients will be present. Please take note that there are other types of filters other than HEPA which are less efficient. These should be labeled clearly as non-HEPA.
8) Controlling the humidity in the air can be an effective but tricky and sensitive method of reducing the advent of COVID-19 virus transmission. Some research studies have shown that when the humidity measurement in a building or home is in the 40% – 60% range, the survival rate of the COVID-19 virus is reduced. Also, scientific studies have shown that excessive dryness in the air could help preserve the potency of the body’s immune system against these types of viruses. However, these studies are not persuasive enough to use humidity as a major factor. Rather a good filtration and ventilation system is more of a sure shot. Also, lowering humidity for long periods of time would not be a comfortable way for people to live with long term.
Utilizing clean air ventilation systems set at maximum efficiency using HEPA filters is still the most effective way of keeping the air in both industrial buildings and private homes safe from any type of COVID-19 virus variants. There are other technologies that are effective that have been around for decades, but the CDC is not endorsing them nor are they opposing them. Emerging technologies such as disinfecting by chemicals such as dry hydrogen peroxide and chemical fogging seem to be efficacious; however, there is still not enough established peer-review to prove their overall effectiveness. Some products on the market produce reactive oxidative species that generate ions to clean the air.
If COVID-19 and its variants are here to stay for the time being, we must be diligent while still going on with our lives in as normal a way as we can. With vaccinations and immunity by those who have already been infected by COVID-19, our country can soon come close to what is called, “herd immunity”. Even if new variants come along, we will have to learn how to deal with them. By keeping the air in our homes, office buildings, schools, and health facilities clean and well ventilated we can keep our facilities open and running routinely. From the latest news out of Florida we see that the majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated. We can learn two main lessons from them. The first is not to close the city because this causes havoc and financial doom. The second lesson is to start vaccinating everyone as soon as possible. In the same way smallpox and polio were challenged and beaten so can today’s viruses. By practicing safe hygiene whether it’s masking when necessary or washing our hands, we can win this fight. It will take time but with G-D’s help it can be done.