The Next Pandemic
Leveraging Far UV-C technologies for global readiness

The world was not ready for the next pandemic.

About 50 million people died globally in 1918 due to the great Influenza pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu. A hundred years later, the Influenza Division of the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA, met to discuss global readiness to fight the next pandemic.¹

Policemen in Seattle, Washington, wearing masks made by the Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross, during the influenza epidemic.
Credit: National Archives Catalogue.
Patients crowd an emergency hospital near Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1918.
Credit: Associated Press.

Influenza viruses change constantly. This requires ongoing surveillance, investigations, and frequent vaccine changes. It was anticipated by the CDC that a similar situation would still have catastrophic results today, since the world is more crowded, and the habitats of humans and animals are increasingly converging. The number of reported novel Influenza A infections is raising since 2011¹ and CDC estimates that three out of every four new infectious diseases in people come from animals.²

Gaps  in the pandemic readiness were identified, being the need for better antivirals, need for reusable respiratory protective devices and ventilator access some of them. The potential consequences of a new pandemic described on CDC's report were:

  • Tens of millions of deaths, and infection of the 20-30% of global population.
  • Disruption of transportation and supply chains (food, energy, medical supplies).
  • Disruption and saturation of healthcare system.
  • High economic costs (in the USA has been estimated US$181 billion cost due to pan flu pandemic of 2009³, and US$30 billion in only four months due to SARS-CoV-1).

Despite all the learnings and advice from different health organisations, one hundred years later, we were not ready.

 
 

Besides living in a modern world surrounded by high technologies, we have fought the novel virus SARS-CoV-2 with similar measures that were used during the Influenza pandemic in 1918⁴. According to the study of R. Hatchett et al.⁵ , schools, theatres, churches, and dance halls in cities across the USA were closed; weddings and funerals were restricted to only twenty attendants in Kansas City; factories in New York had to rearrange shifts by mandate to reduce rush hour commuter traffic; and face masks were obligatory in Seattle.

Indeed, non-pharmaceutical interventions have not evolved much since last century. Ban of gatherings, isolation, and facial masks have been our new normal since 2020. Our world is evolving at an unbelievable rate. From our smartphones, we can see space travels and connect with anyone around the globe. Paradoxically, we have not exploited available resources to protect ourselves from our surroundings. Over the last three decades, outbreaks of viruses have increased critically. In 2019, WHO listed Influenza, Ebola, and other high-threat pathogens among the 10 most important threats to global health.⁶

Incredible far UV-C lighting technologies have been developed with huge potential for health and germicidal applications.  

Far UV-C light (200 -230 nm) has been identified by many studies as a promising alternative solution to fight viruses and bacteria⁷'⁸. It can help prevent the transmission of pathogens by reducing the microbiological load of environments. Safety of far UV-C radiation has also been demonstrated. Conventional germicidal lamps emit radiation at 254 nm, which penetrates human skin and eyes, damaging DNA and RNA. However, light at 222 nm is absorbed by the dead cells of the outer layer of the skin, and the tear layer of the eye.⁸'⁹

It is time to pave the way to new solutions that align with our technical development and life standards. Far UV-C technology is an optimal alternative that can be seamlessly integrated in our daily routine to provide a safer and healthier future.


References

[1] D.B. Jerningan, Influenza Division, CDC, 100 Years Since 1918: Are We Ready for the Next Pandemic? (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/pdfs/1918-pandemic-webinar.pdf.
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. (July 1, 2021). Zoonotic Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html.
[3] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017). Pandemic Influenza Plan 2017 UPDATE.  Retrieved from Pandemic Influenza Plan - Update IV (December 2017) (cdc.gov).
[4] National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (April 2, 2007). Rapid Response was Crucial to Containing the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/rapid-response-was-crucial-containing-1918-flu-pandemic.
[5] R Hatchett et al. Public health interventions and epidemic intensity during the 1918 influenza pandemic. PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0610941104 (2007).
[6] WHO. (2019). Ten threats to global health in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019.
[7] Kitagawa H. Effectiveness of 222-nm ultraviolet light on disinfecting SARS-CoV-2 surface contamination. Am J Infect Control. 2021 Mar;49(3):299-301. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2020.08.022. Epub 2020 Sep 4. PMID: 32896604; PMCID: PMC7473342.
[8] Hessling M. The impact of far-UVC radiation (200-230 nm) on pathogens, cells, skin, and eyes - a collection and analysis of a hundred years of data. GMS Hyg Infect Control. 2021 Feb 16;16:Doc07. doi: 10.3205/dgkh000378. PMID: 33643774; PMCID: PMC7894148.
[9] Narita K . Disinfection and healing effects of 222-nm UVC light on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection in mouse wounds. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2018 Jan;178:10-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2017.10.030. Epub 2017 Oct 27. Erratum in: J Photochem Photobiol B. 2018 Apr 3;: PMID: 29101868; PMCID: PMC5771808.