Research at a hospital swamped by people with COVID-19 has confirmed that portable air filters effectively remove SARS-CoV-2 particles from the air — the first such evidence in a real-world setting1. The results suggest that air filters could be used to reduce the risk of patients and medical staff contracting SARS-CoV-2 in hospitals, the study’s authors say.
Despite the proper use of personal protective equipment, hospitals have reported substantial spread of SARS-CoV-2 from patients to health-care workers. One suspected cause of such cases is viral particles in the air, which are one of the main drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Earlier experiments that tested air filters’ performance assessed their ability to remove inactive particles while operating in carefully controlled environments2. As a result, “what was not known was how effective they would be in a real-world ward setting for clearing SARS-CoV-2”, says study co-author Vilas Navapurkar, an intensive-care unit (ICU) physician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, UK. Hospitals have turned to portable air filters as an attractive solution when their isolation facilities are full, Navapurkar says, but it’s important to know whether such filters are effective or whether they simply provide a false sense of security.