With new Covid-19 variants causing concern, REACT’s infection control methodology remains robust in tackling transmission of the virus.
For almost a year, Covid-19 has been a part of our everyday lives. At certain times, as in the current national lockdown, it impacts directly on the way that we live. Unsurprisingly, it’s a regular topic of conversation, and we’ve all got used to grappling with some key scientific concepts. Particularly over the past month, there has been talk about the various mutations of the virus that causes the disease. There’s been speculation about what these might mean for the course of the pandemic and our path out of it. In this blog, we’re looking at the science behind Covid-19 variants and how best to address them.
When coronaviruses mutate
Since the pandemic started almost a year ago, we’ve all heard a lot about the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, named for the crown-like spikes on their surfaces. One of the notable characteristics of these viruses is that they can mutate rapidly, whether that creates a whole new virus (‘strain’) or differences to an existing virus (‘variant’). In particular, even if they’ve been exposed to a virus before, individuals may not be immune to new strains as they arise. Indeed, that’s why the SARS-CoV2 virus which causes Covid-19 proved so problematic in the first place. It’s a different strain of a previously identified virus behind the global SARS outbreak in 2002-04.
Since identifying SARS-CoV2 in early 2020, scientists have monitored changes in the virus caused by mutation, through genetic analyses and genome sequencing. This includes changes to the spikes on the virus’s surface, which attach to cells in the human body. Many thousands of variants of the virus have been documented globally during this pandemic. As of mid-January 2021, there are three main variants of the virus where mutations in the spike protein are causing most concern. They’re commonly known as the UK, South African and Brazil variants.
Taking responsibility for restricting spread of Covid-19 variants
The good news is that there is no evidence that symptoms of disease caused by these variants are more severe. And most importantly, scientists are currently confident that the various SARS-CoV2 vaccines will remain effective in developing an immune response against them. However, the bad news is that a number of these variants have already been shown to be more transmissible than the original virus. This means that each infected individual has a greater chance of transmitting the virus to more people with whom they come in contact. This, of course, prompted the UK government to impose tighter restrictions at Christmas, as well as the current third national lockdown in England.
Given these Covid-19 variants’ characteristics, it’s ever more important to focus on all the measures we can take to restrict transmission. The UK government’s mantra of ‘hands, face, space’ remains as relevant as ever. We must all remember to wash our hands more frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after being outside our homes. Where it’s possible for people to wear them, face coverings can restrict airborne transmission. Maintaining social distance, even when outside, can further limit transmission. And more widely, of course, we’re all being asked to stay home as much as possible at present.
Deep cleaning and decontamination remain a vital task
Here at REACT, we know that deep cleaning and decontamination are some of the most effective tools in this arsenal of measures. Where people don’t have the option to work at home, it’s vital to ensure the highest possible standards of hygiene in their workplaces and public transport networks. Our infection control methodology remains robust in maintaining health and safety and restricting surface transmission. We test to make sure we’re focusing on the highest-risk areas, using ATP testing. We clean to remove the dirt and dust which can harbour the virus (and other pathogens). We disinfect, deploying viricides that are proven effective against SARS-CoV2. And we test again to give confidence that we’ve removed all pathogens.
Our teams are available for regular Covid-19 cleaning in a variety of settings, in healthcare facilities and beyond. We can also act as a first response service when Covid-positive individuals are identified on site. We’ll use the most effective disinfection methods in each setting to ensure Covid safety, from ultra-low volume (ULV) fogging to whole-room misting. And we’re continuing to work towards finding more environmentally friendly viricidal agents. Now more than ever, it’s right to say that we’re all in this together. And together, we will ensure that we can all live safely beyond the pandemic.
To find out more about REACT Specialist Cleaning and our infection control service, which addresses Covid-19 variants and other pathogens, contact one of the team today.
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the CEO of REACT Group plc., a business dedicated to specialist cleaning, hygiene and decontamination. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sector.