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COVID-19: Hospital, ICU air highly contaminated with coronavirus, warn researchers

Among the 2,284 records identified by the researchers, the positivity rate was five of 21 air samples (23.8 percent) in toilets, 20 of 242 (8.3 percent) in clinical areas, 15 of 122 (12.3 percent) in staff areas, and 14 of 42 (33.3 percent) in public areas came back as positive.

December 25, 2020 / 05:09 PM IST
As per the study, 82 of the 471 air samples (17.4 percent) collected from close patient environments were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

As per the study, 82 of the 471 air samples (17.4 percent) collected from close patient environments were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

A recent study has found that half of the air samples collected from hospital hallways and Intensive Care Units and one fifth of the air samples taken from bathrooms had high levels of the novel coronavirus. The study titled ‘Assessment of Air Contamination by SARS-CoV-2 in Hospital Settings’ was published on December 23.

For the study, the researchers had collected air samples from close patient environments, clinical zones away from patients, staff areas, toilets/ bathrooms, and six public places.

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Researchers found 17 percent of air sampled from close patient environments to be positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and one-quarter of all ICU rooms with COVID-19 patients were contaminated. In fact, the air sampled inside ICUs were more contaminated with the novel coronavirus than the air sampled in non-ICUs.

As per the study, 82 of the 471 air samples (17.4 percent) collected from close patient environments were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. The positivity rate was significantly higher in intensive care units with 27 of 107 found to be contaminated as against 39 of 364 contaminated non-intensive care units.

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The study stated: “Among the 2,284 records identified, the positivity rate was five of 21 air samples (23.8 percent) in toilets, 20 of 242 (8.3 percent) in clinical areas, 15 of 122 (12.3 percent) in staff areas, and 14 of 42 (33.3 percent) in public areas came back as positive.”

It added: “The results of the positivity rate in ICU and non-ICU patient environments were highly heterogeneous and appeared superior in the ICU when pooling the results. In the ICU, seven of 12 studies did not find SARS-CoV-2 RNA, whereas the remaining did, with 37.5 percent to 100 percent positive samples.”

The study, however, clarified that the level of severity of patients’ infections did not increase the air contamination.

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Moneycontrol News
first published: Dec 25, 2020 05:09 pm

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