Irish air dis-infection company Novaerus has developed an innovative portable device which kills bacteria rather than just trapping them.
I have been testing the impressive NV 200, which Michael Corr of Novaerus tells me has been independently proven to kill 99.99% of MS2 Bacteriophage, a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19.
With so many businesses in two minds about returning to work, Novaerus believes its device can close the hygiene loop by eliminating any viral particles in the air. This will help reassure employees and customers alike. A chain of Irish pharmacies is currently trialling the NV 200.
“We all know that respiratory droplets caused by coughing, sneezing and wheezing are considered one of the main transmission routes for the virus,” says Michael Corr. “So things like hand washing, wearing a mask, and of course social distancing will continue.
“But we also know generally that infection can be transmitted on air currents, where you have dried viral particles swirling around and spreading over long distances. Our plasma technology kills those particles, which significantly mitigates the risk of airborne infection and contamination of surfaces and hands.
“For companies that need to get back to work, these devices are really the final piece of the jigsaw in terms of protecting staff and customers,” Mr Corr says. “They are being deployed around the world in the global fight against Covid-19.” My testing of the NV 200 has coincided with the recent news that the World Health Organisation (WHO) may have to rethink its strategy on how to fight the Covid-19 virus.
An open letter from 239 international scientists says the WHO has underestimated the possibility that the virus can be contracted via airborne transmission. The open letter was published to the medical community in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, urging the medical community, as well as national and international bodies to recognise the potential for airborne spread of Covid-19.
“The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings - especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out," Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead for infection prevention and control, said at a virtual press conference.
The WHO has acknowledged evidence that coronavirus can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air however, this new information will have to be studied in great detail before it can be verified.
And so back to the NV 200. Unlike a lot of air-purifiers, which use filters to trap potentially harmful elements in the air, the NV 200 actually instantly kills bacteria, spores and viruses. Filters trap contaminants in the air, but they can’t disinfect it. Some will ionize the air with electric and positive ions that will stick to contaminants making them bigger so they could be trapped in a filter.
I wonder what happens to all those trapped viruses and bacteria in these filters over time. Will they continue to grow or eventually die?
I put these questions to Michael Corr of Novaerus. He says the company’s three portable air dis-infection devices all feature Irish-made plasma technology, which kill the bacteria.
Based in Portlaoise, Novaerus first invented the patented plasma technology in 2006 and it has since been widely used around the world.
The Novaerus technology has been recognised by Chinese health authorities, while hundreds of hospitals worldwide have installed the devices to help reduce transmission of Covid-19.
In South Korea, the Irish-manufactured technology can be found in close to 80% of existing ambulances in Seoul.
In addition, Novaerus’s scientific diligence was recently recognized by the Karolinska Institute, one of the world’s leading medical universities in Stockholm, Sweden, where the Nobel Prize in Medicine is issued.
Novaerus was honoured to be the only air disinfection company – that met the stringent requirements – to participate in a study on the efficacy of air dis-infection against pathogens.
Mr Corr said: “We cannot just concentrate on surfaces and hands anymore. We have to look at pathogens in the air because it's not only Covid-19, TB is on the increase across the world and it is a proven airborne disease. No one will argue that TB is airborne and so is measles.
“And only in December and January, this year, Dublin had a big outbreak of mumps, another airborne disease. So from surfaces and hands, we're now closing that loop with the missing piece of the jigsaw which is decontamination.” As international demand has grown, production of the devices has risen 12-fold since the start of 2020 at Novaerus’s Portlaoise manufacturing facility.
The product range includes the NV200, NV800 and Defend 1050 models, all of which can be simply plugged in and moved from room to room. The devices use a plasma-based technology to decontaminate the air, with the smaller models using less energy than a 40-watt light bulb.
The NV200 which I’ve been using is super quiet. There’s no smart controls or fancy displays or controls on the unit - all you get is a simple plug and a switch on the side to turn it on and off.
Although Novaerus is based in Portlaoise, you can purchase their device directly from them. Instead, they’ve teamed up with McGreal’s Pharmacy group, which operates eleven pharmacies in the Leinster area.
“Installing Novaerus units in all our shops to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 was a no-brainer,” says group owner Kilian McGreal. “However, I firmly believe the benefits go well beyond that. Post Covid-19, our team and our patients will have a much higher expectation of the hygiene measures at their local pharmacy.
“With the number of people coming into our pharmacies with colds, flu and chest infections, having a Novaerus unit to eliminate airborne viruses, bacteria and fungi make perfect sense.” McGreal’s Pharmacy supplies to all retail, business, consumer, and health care sectors, while Fannin Ltd, a medical supply company based in Ireland and the UK, supplies directly to hospitals, residential nursing homes and dentists.
Finally, Michael asked me this question. “Would you sit in somebody else's bathwater? I wouldn't want to.
“But the point is when you're in a pub, or a restaurant, or an office with a number of people, you're breathing in the air there. So it's like sitting in somebody else's bathwater. And this is why we need to mitigate risk.”