haseltine15_ Alejandra Villa LoarcaNewsday RM via Getty Images_covid Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Breathing Life Back into COVID Prevention

Taking the fight to pathogens like the coronavirus will require a multi-pronged strategy to improve air quality in indoor public and private spaces. And though this method of prevention will require new investments, the costs will pale in comparison to those associated with chronic reinfection and poor public health.

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CONNECTICUT – After three long years, the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down. Unfortunately, public resistance and fatigue toward COVID-19 interventions and restrictions are at an all-time high. Even China, which was once considered a leader in virus control, has rapidly dispensed with most mitigation strategies.

But make no mistake: COVID-19 still poses a clear and present danger. Research shows that two or more COVID-19 re-infections doubles the risk for death, blood clots, and lung damage, among other negative health outcomes. The risk of cardiovascular events has been found to increase by 4.5% up to 12 months after infection, regardless of age, race, sex, obesity, smoking, or other factors. Moreover, the latest waves of infection are being fueled by new variants that evade immunity from both vaccination and previous infections.

The good news is that we still have powerful prevention tools at our disposal. In fact, there is one widely underused strategy that doesn’t require behavioral change or restrictions, that can be used just about anywhere, and that would also help protect us against other airborne viruses, such as RSV and influenza. It requires investing much more in basic measures such as ventilation, air filtration, and ultraviolet germicidal light, and accelerating the exploration of newer discoveries, such as the potential use of aerosol acidity levels to inactivate certain airborne viruses.

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