Old enemies re-emerge to heap pressure on global health
This Summer, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases are much higher than usual across the globe. This illness is usually common only in the winter flu season, where it causes mild, cold-like symptoms in most cases, however, it can lead to severe illness in infants and elderly adults.
In the week of 31st July 2021, over 3,000 confirmed cases of RSV were recorded in the USA, around 300 times higher than the confirmed cases in the week of the 1st August 2020, which stood at just 10. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the actual number of infections is likely to be higher, as some doctors may not test symptomatic children for RSV outside of the usual RSV season. Similar reports are being heard from European and APAC nations.
This surge in summer RSV cases is likely due to the restrictions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people practiced social distancing, thus meaning RSV circulated at “historically low levels”, according to a CDC report. Now restrictions are easing, people are starting to mix as before, meaning these pathogens are allowed to spread again. Here in the UK, NHS staff are also worried about it’s re-emergence.
Dr Rhys Thomas, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at PP-L says, “Other illnesses are also likely to have higher infection rates this year, due to reduced exposure to pathogens during periods of restrictions. For example, the CDC has warned that the upcoming influenza season this winter is also likely to be more severe as many people have not had the normal natural exposure to influenza viruses to build up antibodies for resistance. Indeed, vaccine manufacturers may struggle with making those more effective vaccines for this year for the same reasons.”.
“It is therefore crucial, especially this year, when we are also faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, that effective infection mitigations are put into place to prevent illnesses. Standard procedures such as frequent hand washing and staying at home if you or someone in your household has symptoms, are helpful, but as we have seen, this is not entirely effective as millions still become infected with Influenza every year, even with effective vaccines.”
“RSV, Influenza and Covid are all mainly airborne respiratory illnesses and so we at PP-L Biosafety recommend increasing levels of ventilation; however, creating adequate ventilation for existing buildings is an immense challenge.”
“Around the globe, experts such as ourselves are recommending installing Germicidal Ultraviolet light (GUV) devices within shared indoor spaces because these systems can safely disinfect the human aerosols which contaminate the air. GUV inactivates pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and spores at the very building blocks of the microbes, the DNA or the RNA. GUV devices, especially fan assisted versions, which mix clean and contaminated air quicker to speed up air disinfection, will help to eliminate or control the risk of disease transmission, which will be especially important in the coming winter months.”
“Such devices are supported by regulators and institutions worldwide as a highly effective mitigation against pathogens and are set to make an important contribution to beating Covid-19, when specified and deployed correctly by suitably qualified and experienced professionals. The GUV solutions we provide for any client are always signed off by at least one of our team of Chartered Engineers, Scientists and Medical experts. Our solutions are not just designed for COVID-19, but also for RSV, Influenza, and all other airborne respiratory pathogens. They are designed to be specific for each client’s occupational risks and needs so that they are ready for whatever the future may bring. Biosafety is about long-term pandemic resilience.”