The coronavirus pandemic’s devastating impact on medical practices as patient numbers dwindled because of fear of infection and practices had to close and disinfect after exposure, has put renewed emphasis on the implementation of guaranteed safety measures in medical facilities to protect both patients and healthcare providers against potentially deadly infections.

Stringent hand hygiene and surface disinfection protocols remain the gold standard for infection control in healthcare environments. However,  mounting evidence and the acknowledgement from the World Health Organization that SARS-CoV2 can potentially spread through airborne aerosol droplets, as well as the global rise in other infections both viral and bacterial, have prompted scientists to realise that air disinfection should be added to existing measures to ensure full protection.

“Research has shown that implementing technology aimed at continuously disinfecting circulating air could significantly reduce and kill airborne pathogens, ensuring not only the safety of patients and healthcare professionals but also lowering the cost of effective infection control,” says Edwin Wyrley-Birch from Right to Pharma, the distributors of Novaerus clean air devices in sub-Saharan Africa.

Developed and independently tested before the advent of COVID-19, rigorous research has proven the  ability of Novaerus  plasma technology to effectively deactivate harmful airborne pathogens such as TB, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the norovirus, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and influenza viruses amongst others. 

It can that can be used in consulting rooms, reception areas, hospitals and other settings where there is a risk of airborne infections and was brought to South Africa and registered by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) at the end of last year through a partnership and collaboration between the Novaurus clean air company in Ireland and Right to Pharma.

“The Novaerus unique ultra-low energy patented plasma technology units only need to be plugged into an outlet and switched on to allow for continued 24/7 infection control,” Wyrley-Birch explains.

In hospitals in countries that were already using Novaerus devices to disinfect air, the units were placed in COVID wards to offer an additional layer of protection and were shown to reduce airborne MS2 bacteriophage, a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)  by 99.99%.

At the Uzsoki Hospital in Budapest where several units were deployed in COVID wards, not a single healthcare worker tested positive for antibodies of the virus despite having had to care for dozens of sick patients which was in part attributed to the continuous air-disinfection. Added benefits were that the units could be moved around to the areas that they were required and once plugged in, were self-operating needing no expertise, additional equipment, or maintenance to continue running.

“The Novaerus air disinfection technology is aimed at closing the gap in existing infection control protocols in medical facilities at a time when airborne infections have become a major threat to patients and healthcare professionals, increasing the burden of morbidity and mortality and costing millions each year to the healthcare sector to contain their spread,” says Wyrley-Birch.

“In addition, the application of the technology is also critical in laboratories and testing facilities where it is often mistakenly assumed that there is no threat of airborne bacteria and viruses.”

Wyrley-Birch notes that the Novaerus technology has been tested and implemented by testing partners in Ireland, the UK, Sweden, the US and India for between five and ten years with clinical studies conducted in countries such as Japan, Poland, China, Bulgaria and even at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s  (NASA) Ames Research Centre and published in several medical journals, showing its effectiveness in disactivating 99.99% of all airborne pathogens.

The technology is available in three configurations based on the size of the area that needs to be disinfected. The largest one – the NV 1050 is designed for hospitals while the smaller NV 200 and NV 800 units are ideal for small to medium indoor spaces such as consulting rooms, reception areas and small pharmacies.  While the largest unit takes in 900 cubic metres of air flow an hour, the NV 800 and NV 200 allow for 65 and 200 cubic metres of air flow an hour respectively.

As the devices run on very low energy, they can be left on 24 hours a day to deactivate and eradicate all potentially harmful pathogens on a continuous basis. The units can be free-standing or wall-mounted and offer a plug and play solution with no installation required.

The retail price for the NV 200 is R23 000 and for the NV 800, R39 000. It is a one-off cost as no installation is needed.

Wyrley-Birch points out that a service is available for establishments to test the air quality in their premises before and after the installation of devices to show the difference they make to disinfect and clean the air.

“This is not just a solution to contain COVID-19 infections. Air disinfection is an all-round health solution to also decrease the huge mortality burden of diseases such as TB, influenza and hospital- and community acquired infections. The COVID pandemic has forced us to focus more on our environment and the threats transmissible infections pose to people, emphasising the importance of clean air in creating a safer and healthier world,” Wyrley Birch concludes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Novaerus technology and a normal air purifier?

  • Novaerus is an air-cleaner that sterilises the air particles through a plasma chamber. By using a small current, it transforms the gas in the vicinity of the electrode into plasma and eradicates any bacteria, virus, VOC’s and other particle matter that pass through.
  • Normal Air purifiers uses different types of filters and does not result in distortion of the relevant cell structure of the pathogen.

How does it deactivate infectious pathogens and is there any possibility that the pathogens can be recirculated into the air?

  • The bacteria and other pathogens experience physical distortion to varying degrees, resulting in deformation of the specific cell structure. The bacterial re-culture experiments confirm inactivation of e.g. airborne E. coli upon treating with DBD.
  • Novaerus ultra-low energy patented plasma technology has been tested and proven to deactivate airborne bacteria and viruses, neutralize VOCs and reduce particulate such as mould spores, dust mites, pollen, and dander.
  • Novaerus technology cleans the air 24/7. The portable air dis-infection units are ideal for continuous infection control, odour mitigation and indoor air quality maintenance.

How long does it take from the moment the device is switched on in an area to when one can be assured that all pathogens that were circulating in the air have been killed?

  • Various independent tests completed on pathogens i.e. bacteria, viruses, mould spores, VOCs and particulate matter pm1/pm2.5.
  • Virus measles 99.87% reduction in 30 minutes in an area of 28.5m³.
  • TB bacteria 97% reduction within 30 minutes in an area of 30m³.
  • The continuous 24/7 usage will increase the reduction and positive effects of the Novearus deactivation of all airborne pathogens.

Does the technology only work in enclosed spaces and should windows remain closed when it is in operation?

  • To achieve ultimate results the usage of Novearus is recommended as airborne infection control for all indoor environments.

How does it compare to other existing airborne infection control methods including UV lights in terms of effectively killing bacteria and viruses and operating costs?

  • Novaerus technology is unmatched for its efficacy, safety, ease of use, and affordability.
  • Is the system releasing any chemicals into the air and how safe is it to run it on a 24/7 basis?
  • Novaerus plasma is powerful, yet gentle.
  • With no harmful by-products, it is safe for continued use around vulnerable patients and staff, treating the air in real life conditions.

Do the devices need continuous cleaning and maintenance and what does that involve?

  • The Protect 200 and Protect 800 have been designed for continuous air dis-infection and odour control in small and medium indoor spaces with minimal maintenance.
  • The Novaerus Protect range use patented filter-free ultra-low energy plasma technology with a two-speed or single-speed fan.
  • Novaerus portable units are low-energy, low-maintenance and plug into any outlet. With no installation costs, the units can be easily moved by staff to the point of care.

For more information on the Novaerus solutions, contact:

Edwin Wyrley-Birch – 060 655 0862 or email: Edwin@sadoctorsapp.co.za

Willie Van Zyl  – 060 819 0221

Fanie Hendricks – 082 898 6265