If the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 enters a person’s body, that person needs a doctor and the medical community’s help.
However, a Batchawana Bay man says a new type of ultraviolet lamp (specifically, a far-UVC lamp) can ‘kill’ the virus and other bacteria in the air before a person gets infected.
Al Errington, while researching air sanitation solutions for the tourism industry last summer, came into contact with Magec Tech partners/inventors Anthony Baldasaro and Apoorva Yadav of Kitchener, Ontario.
Magec Tech’s Magec Air 500 air sanitation lamp is not yet on the market for sale to businesses or individuals.
However, Errington, speaking to SooToday in a telephone interview earlier this week, said “there’ve been extensive studies (on far-UV), a lot of it done at Columbia University. It has been tested on SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus which causes COVID-19.”
The Magec Air 500 air sanitation lamp, once it is on the market, could be installed overhead in offices or public spaces and disinfect areas up to 700 square feet in size from airborne viruses and bacteria, including COVID-19, said Errington, who serves as Magec Tech’s business strategist.
Convinced of the Magec Air 500’s effectiveness and its potential to limit the spread of COVID-19, Errington said he and his Magec Tech partners now need a manufacturer to step up and mass produce it for sale.
“We’re not really set up to sell. They would be very expensive. We would really like to connect with lamp or light manufacturers who could incorporate our technology into their production.”
The units, as the situation currently stands, would cost approximately $1,500 each, but with a manufacturer on board to mass produce them, Errington estimated that cost would be cut by 50 per cent to 70 per cent.
“That would make it a lot more accessible...that would get it out quickly. It could probably get it out in weeks,” Errington said.
“We also know we can make them much bigger and much smaller...we want them for small rooms, elevators. Another one is very small, about the size of a bulky cell phone, and when we do that one, we also want to make a home version that’s actually a self standing lamp for an area of about 100 square feet.”
As for making them bigger, Errington said Magec Tech could have units manufactured for larger areas, such as arenas and gyms.
Errington emphasized the lamp is not a cure or treatment for COVID-19, still advocating the need for vaccines, masks and social distancing, but wants the Magec Air 500 to be added as another tool in the box to limit the spread of the virus.
“I still want to get the vaccine."
"This (Magec Air air sanitation lamp) won’t do everything, but long term, it can battle these variants. It looks like we’re quite probably going to have variants of COVID for the foreseeable future unless we start becoming much more proactive about the technologies we use,” Errington said.
Regular ultraviolet light (UVC) has a proven, decades-long track record of being able to disinfect air and surfaces in hospitals and other medical sites, reducing transmission of and even killing off hard to kill bacteria.
However, it is hazardous to humans.
It can burn the skin and eyes and can only be used in unoccupied areas.
But, for the last 10 years, scientists have been researching the use of far-UVC and its effectiveness in stopping the spread of the flu, viruses (and now, COVID-19) in occupied public spaces.
Far-UVC is a lower spectrum of ultraviolet light (222 nm) that does not cause damage to people like conventional UVC (254 nm).
According to research done so far, it is believed far-UVC is safe on skin and eyes when people are in the room, far-UVC proponents say.
"They (bacteria and viruses) don’t have effective defence against far-UVC if they are directly exposed to it,” Errington said, stating far-UVC can quickly and safely inactivate viruses and bacteria while people are present.
Many researchers began looking into the possible benefits of far-UV in fighting off the virus that causes COVID-19 last summer.
Errington said the Magec Air 500 air sanitation lamp was ready to go at the start of 2021, and the search for a manufacturer to get it out on the market began.
“I really credit the medical community in regard to their reaction to COVID and viruses and bacteria in general, but from a government standpoint we should be much more proactive in regard to these diseases,” Errington said.
“The medical society has done an incredible job in regard to COVID. Government, however, has been lacklustre at best. I’ve been trying to get governmental attention on this technology, as well as conventional ultraviolet technology since June. I’ve engaged with a few bureaucrats and some political people but it always falls flat. There’s no interest and no support for innovation in regard to COVID as well as other airborne viruses and bacteria,” Errington said.
Still, when it comes to gaining governmental approval for Magec Tech’s device, Errington said “Health Canada is only for medical devices (the Magec Air 500 a lamp, not a medical device).”
“The only approvals we should need are CSA (Canadian Standards Association) or UL-C (Underwriters Laboratories-Canada) or equivalent. These are basic certifications that (ensure) our devices are adequately constructed so consumers have reasonable protections from shoddy design or manufacturing.”
Skeptics caution there have been no studies on the long term effect of far-UV on humans.
Because far-UVC technology’s history is not as long as that of conventional UVC, there are few far-UV products on the market, consumers urged to be cautious and buy far-UVC devices from trusted manufacturers.
“Far-UVC is indeed a new technology, but promising to directly and safely inactivate viruses in occupied spaces,” wrote Columbia University physicist Dr. David Brenner in an email to SooToday.
Brenner is investigating the safety and potential use of far-UVC to restrict the spread of airborne viruses, including COVID-19, in hospitals, schools and a host of other public spaces.
“The amount of research on far-UVC has increased quite markedly in the past year, and now there’s a considerable body of peer-reviewed published safety studies from many different researchers in the U.S., Europe and Japan,” Brenner wrote.
“Encouragingly, the U.S. regulators who set the regulatory limits as to how much far-UVC exposure is allowed have published that they are intending to raise the limit significantly, based on all the new safety data. Another encouraging aspect is that the UK National Health Service is about to start far-UVC trials.”
Brenner disagreed with those who may feel the effort to get far-UV air sanitation lamps on the market may be coming too quickly, “specifically in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It is projected more far-UVC products will be on the market in months and years to come as scientists are continuing their research into the safety of those products.
Bringing far-UVC lamps to the marketplace would be of long term benefit, Errington said.
“They’re talking about COVID coming back in mutations on a yearly basis, just like the flu does. I really think we need to get ahead of this and be proactive.”