A sense of despondency has crept in with infrastructure providers shirking responsibility by saying “What can we do, infection will happen!” Well, how much does one spend on anti-virus software per computer? About 800 rupees per year? A passive disinfection system which could protect & save thousands of users of a facility costs a fraction of that, says Harish Anantharaman, Managing Director, Accelerated Cleaning Systems India Pvt. Ltd.
It’s a fallacy that mere contact with a pathogen by air or skin spreads disease but the truth is that the inability of the immune system to fight and prevent the growth of bacteria and viruses in the body is what causes a disease. Lesser the load of pathogens in contact, the lesser is the load on the immune system to fight an infection from occurring and hence, reduces the chances of getting diseased.
Infection control is more like ensuring aircraft safety. While there is attempt to reach 100% safety knowing that it is impossible, but persevering to get as close to it as possible, continues. Reduction of 99.98% is not enough but 99.99% is. But it would still be better if we can get 99.999%. What this all means? It is better to have 1 in 10000 (99.999%) chances of getting an infection compared to 1 in 500 (99.98%) or 1 in 1000 (99.99%).
It is common to judge infection control measures or its effectiveness by the number of infections that occurred, rather than the number of infection cases that were prevented. Afterall, an air crash causes more reactions and eyeballs than a million landings and take-offs.
Biosecurity needs to be incorporated as part of the infrastructure. It cannot be a choice that institutions are asked to make or be based on a consumable or OPEX expense. This enables mitigation of expenses rather than risks. When seat belts in India were offered as a choice and an additional feature at an extra cost, 90% people did not go for it. People rather opted for mileage, sunroof, leather seats and other features to make the buy.
Looking clean is different from being clean. Similarly, feeling secure by looking at workers cleaning and spraying, does not actually assure safety.
There is no single bullet solution for Safety or Bio-Security from diseases. It needs a multipronged approach; highways are not made safer just by asking people to follow lane and distance discipline or desist from driving drunk. It is important that infrastructure providers incorporate a safe highway plan in design and management. Catching errant drivers or booking indiscipline is not enough. Speed arrestors, correctly designed curves, zero potholes, avoiding blind spots, trees on the median and signboards all form a part of Highway Safety.
Service providers and facility owners need to implement hygiene & infection control protocols as part of biosecurity Infrastructure as Fire and Cyber Security.
HVAC ducts include HEPA filters to trap pollutants and does not kill pathogens. Similarly, UVC lights are being used mostly with an intent to prevent biofilms in ducts which effect energy consumption. Increasing air recirculation rates are very energy consuming. Passive disinfection using FAR UVC lights are more effective in controlling viral loads. It is not people dependent and does not incur frequent consumable costs. It provides solutions that are as effective as N95 masks or 15 ACH (Air circulations per hour).
Both active and passive measures are required for infection control. Active measures are what you do daily or periodically like cleaning and disinfection by using equipment like scrubbers, mops, sprayers. Passive systems are those which are permanent installations like UVC lights, permanent coatings or the automated infrared temperature checking systems like CCTVs.
Modern warfare needs modern tools.