As per recently published study by researchers in Beijing, China[i] it was observed that with each degree rise in temperature and each percent humidity increase, the contagiousness of the disease caused by the Coronavirus, named COVID 19 goes down significantly. R-naught or RO refers to the average number of people that one sick person goes on to infect among a group that has no immunity to the virus. The closer to zero an RO value the better the results. A lower RO means the outbreak is slowing or declining while a higher one means its swelling or growing at faster rate. The RO of the coronavirus hovers between 2 and 2.5 as per WHO meaning that each new person spreads the disease to about 2.2 people on an average. RO is not a fixed value, it changes depending on various factors such as proximity among people, the surroundings and climatic condition.
The study found that for every 1.8 degree Fahrenheit (1o C) increase in temperature and 1 % increase in relative humidity, the Coronavirus RO value decreased by 0.04 and 0.02. So, if the virus has an RO value of 2, an 18 o Fahrenheit increase would drop the RO value to 1.6 which is 20% decrease. The coronavirus current RO value in the Northern Hemisphere is 2.5 which is more than double of many places in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s currently summer. Their research revealed that the average number of new daily cases during the time period in a place like Italy, where the temperature hovered around 48 o F ( 9 o C ) was four times the number of new cases in place like Thailand, where temperatures were closer to 95 o Fahrenheit (35oC). Another study conducted by Hindawi[ii], found that at high relative humidity (>95%) with comparatively low temperatures (28°C and 33°C) did not affect the virus infectivity significantly. However, higher temperatures (38°C) at 80–90% relative humidity led to some decrease in virus activity within 24 hours. However, if the dried virus was stored at high temperature (38°C) and high relative humidity (>95%), there was a further significant degradation in virus activity at each point in time.
Taking into consideration the above research, a collaborative team comprising of faculty, scientists, doctors and industrialist have developed a COVID De-Incubator chamber to disinfect the clothes and commonly used daily wear items. The team comprises of people from multidisciplinary areas: Mr. Hirak Ranjan Das from Royal Global University, Dr. Dinesh Bhatia from North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, Dr. Kalyan Kumar Das, Assam Engineering College, Industrialist Mr. Dipak Kalita and Prof. Animesh Mishra from NEIGHRIMS, Shillong. After more than two 2 months of research, discussions, trials and testing, the machine has been made compact and cost effective. The prototype-testing has been completed and field trials are under consideration.
The machine works under the concept of high temperature heating and humidity. The temperature is maintained between 75oC to 80oC with humidity levels maintained at 80% to 90% for required time period to decay the corona virus and reduce its half-life substantially. The machine can be used to sanitize Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Wool, Polyester, Acrylic, Polypropylene, Cotton, Newspaper, steel, leather products etc. The machine is easy to deploy and can be installed at homes and public utilities such as banks, shops, hospitals, offices, bus stations, railway stations, airports etc. The machine can be auto-sterilized and gets disinfected after usage. It also reduces the use of chemicals and reagents to do sanitization. The machine can also be used to clean the infected clothes with detergent. They are working on improving the device further by adding Ultraviolet radiation which is considered to effectively eliminate the virus in less than 5 minutes with auto off with temperature and humidity displayer. In short time span the investigators have received interest from several persons regarding the machine.
Description of the instrument
· Dimensions, Length = 70 cm, Breadth = 60 cm, Height = 50 cm
· Operating temperature, 80oC – 85oC maximum upto 110 oC, Humidity levels: 80 to 95%
Merits of the instrument
- Easy to install and operate at home.
- Low cost
- Easy to design and install as per requirements.
- Can disinfect several materials in short time duration