Government officials are set to approve a pilot study that will investigate the use of air purifiers and ultraviolet light in hospital wards as part of efforts to tackle outbreaks of Covid-19 within health settings.
Once funding is secured, Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge will instal filters that combine high-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) and UV technology in two of its wards, where data on the spread of the virus between patients will be collected and then assessed.
The study is similar to the Bradford schools pilot, which is testing separate Hepa and UV purifiers in classrooms, but that study is not as large in scale due to the higher rate of infections within hospitals.
Tens of thousands of patients caught Covid-19 during the first and second waves while receiving treatment in hospital for another health issue, research shows.
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) have continued to persist throughout the pandemic, though the spread of the virus in wards has reduced thanks to improved testing and prevention control measures.
However, with the emergence of the new omicron variant, which is able to infect the double vaccinated, health bosses are concerned that Covid cases among staff and patients may start to rise again in hospitals over the coming weeks.
The team behind the Addenbrooke’s study has been in lengthy discussions with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to secure government funding. One source said: “It’s almost approved. We’re nearly there.”
Unlike the Bradford schools pilot, the hospital study will use single filtration units that combine Hepa and UV technologies to clean the air of different infections, including Covid.
A number of these devices have already been rolled out in Addenbrooke’s and begun collecting data – though this has yet to be assessed as part of the research.
The funding from UKHSA will help to pay for around 12 filtration units that will be installed across the corridors and bed bays of two wards, alongside air sampling equipment. The project will cost around £80,000.
A separate study has already been conducted by the same team at Addenbrooke’s, but was focused on two four-bedded bays and therefore analysed a smaller volume of air.
The new research intends to provide a bigger and clearer picture on to what extent purifiers clear the air and limit the spread of Covid infection between patients within hospital settings. It will also seek to provide data on the transmission of the virus from healthcare workers to patients.
“We know that this technology removes virus, bacteria, fungi from the air but what we don’…….