to the current Covid-19 pandemic in Britain, as scientists are left wondering why we are not using it already.
They have become a common sight whether they are in China, Hong Kong or Japan: people with giant cylinders on their backs spraying all around them.
What do lamp posts, train carriages, classrooms, railings, restaurants , bars, stores, airports, hospital exits, government buildings have in common? – they are all locations were this virus can spread easily.
And the battle to tame Covid-19 seems to have paid off.
Or, at least, it has been instrumental in curbing the spread of the virus and helping to free certain countries from their respective shutdowns of coronavirus.
But what exactly does it spray? And why are we not doing anything similar here, if it is so effective? The solution to the first question is easier to understand than seeking an reason for the second question.
What is sprayed is hypochloric acid-more commonly known as HOCl.
As a disinfectant it is 100 times more effective than chlorine and immediately destroys germs and viruses.
However, it is free from potentially harmful additives: non-toxic, inexpensive to make, easy to use and safe for humans. You simply spray HOCl on your hands, clothing, or surfaces, which looks like water.
Scientists, physicians and healthcare experts want to know why this is not being applied more widely in this country.
It took the Government to give the green light to official trials in Britain until this week. One idea is that when theatres open on August 1, members of the audience may be sprayed onto the disinfectant by passing through arches in the metal detector style on their way to the venues.
‘We should have used HOCl from the very start. It would have made a huge difference – but it’s still not too late,’ said Dr Darren Reynolds, professor in Health and Environment at the University of the West of England, in Bristol.
HOCl has been previously described as ‘the gold standard by which all antiviral, antibacterial agents must now be compared’.
HOCl was reported in early March as being instrumental in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in South Korea.
At the end of their shifts, frontline staff at drive-through corona check stations were 'stepping fully dressed into a small portable booth called the Clean Zone, where they were dusted with hypochlorous acid disinfectant.
This practice is known as 'fogging' or 'misting' and is something that the HOCl Trust – a charity set up in 2016 to warn and educate the general public about the benefits of hypochlorous acid – believes could play an significant role in preventing a second spike of the illness.
And it would be cheap. HOCl can be made by dissolving in water a readily available man-made compound called sodium dichloroisocyanurate, the main ingredient of chlorination tablets.
‘We fog our dental practice at regular intervals during the day and I can’t understand why it is not more widely used,’ said James McDonald, a partner at Dutch Barton Dental, in Bradford-on-Avon in Somerset.
The hand-held fogging machine in his practice looks like a leaf-blower, but fogging tunnels have become commonplace in the East. They look like airport scanners but have a pressure pad on the floor that triggers a fine mist of HOCl as people walk through.
Under the name of ShieldMe, a firm named Trimite distributes fogging tunnels in the UK.
They are manufactured in Dubai by a company named Naffco, where they can be used in bus stops, train stations , airports, and cinema foyers. ‘The potential of fogging with hypochlorous acid is huge,’ said David Roberts, chairman of Trimite.
‘We are currently in discussions with some Premiership rugby and football clubs – and we think our three-man tunnels are the solution for bringing spectators back into stadiums.
‘There will be some queuing but it will take no longer to walk through a fogging tunnel than it will to go through a turn style where you have to show your ticket.’
Mr Roberts has attempted to persuade the NHS to build fogging tunnels at hospital entrances but without success: ‘I could pull my hair out dealing with the NHS. They have got to get some commercial people in who understand a supply chain.’
Professor Reynolds told the Mail he got as far as making contact with the relevant office at the Department of Health and suggested HOCl could be made cheaply and in vast quantities but it came to nothing. ‘I got a call back and was told that it would be discussed but that was it,’ he said. ‘There seems to be an inherent resistance to new ideas. Our inability to respond quickly to innovation is deeply frustrating.’
Tania Wedin, a trustee of the HOCl Trust, last week finally succeeded in getting the attention of NHS England’s PPE-reuse team but was told that ‘further testing will be required to positively prove the efficacy of the fogging process specifically against gowns, masks and eyewear, particularly at the scale of decontamination that we are interested in’.
Meanwhile, the NHS team acknowledged it is a ‘promising concept’ and is looking at it as a potential ‘innovative solution’.
But Miss Wedin said she is not holding her breath. She said: ‘The NHS now has a duty to have the necessary testing done and routinely use HOCl.
‘Then, should a second wave be apparent, or a future pandemic, HOCl will be immediately available for frontline key workers to protect themselves, saving the NHS money, and, more importantly, reducing the cost in lives.’
Interested in learning about this amazing product. Click here for more information on HOCI
Palmer, M., 2020. Spray That Costs Pennies Could Be A Simple Solution To Covid Nightmare. [online] Mail Online. Available at: <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8558121/Spray-costs-pennies-kills-viruses-instantly-simple-solution-Covid-nightmare.html> [Accessed 28 July 2020].