The British HVAC innovation that could help buildings open sooner and more safely.

The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine has provided a much-needed reason for positivity but is by no means the immediate lifeline that many industries, including the struggling theatre and live music sector, need. The latest changes to the Tier system today – putting London into Tier 3, shows that these sectors face an even harder fight for survival.

Hardest hit by the Pandemic, most of the UK’s live music venues and theatres are closed, with 45% of the workforce furloughed, Britain’s arts and entertainment industry is in desperate need of a solution that can help return seat numbers to normal as soon as possible and make their future viable. The latest Tier restrictions in London could be the final blow to many.

But maybe not, if new air-conditioning technology created by a British firm passes a series of pioneering trials which will commence in January. The first of which will be at the world-famous music venue, the 100 Club in central London.

As we know, viruses like SARS-CoV-2 spread primarily through breathing infected aerosols, which can remain suspended in the air for up to three hours[1].

The patent-pending Pathogen Reduction System© (PRS), which is fitted into a building’s existing ventilation system, scrubs indoor air clean using high intensity UVC light to safely inactivate 99.99% of dangerous airborne pathogens such as COVID-19, MRSA, measles, TB and the common flu virus. Whilst this is similar to the technology used to disinfect theatres in hospitals and in water treatment plants – the intensity of the UVC light is higher and the way in which the UVC light is used is different.

Whilst the HFS (Hands, face, space) policy can be difficult to enforce and financially impractical for many entertainment venues, a British firm has developed technology that could help this and many other sectors from retail, to transport, offices and leisure facilities like gyms and cinemas, open sooner and more safely.

Developed by an innovative team of engineers, scientists, medical experts and entrepreneurs, the Pathogen Reduction System© is to be trialled in London’s iconic 100 Club in January 2021. The aim being to prove that the integration of this new system into a buildings air conditioning, creates an indoor environment that is COVID secure, allowing audience numbers to return to a pre-pandemic normal for Britain’s 1,100 theatre and thousands of live music venues.

Jeff Horton, owner of the 100 club – one of London’s most iconic live venues that’s played host to the likes of Glen Miller, Louis Armstrong, the Rolling Stones and Amy Winehouse - said about the Pathogen Reduction System© trial, “We agreed to trial the PRS technology without hesitation and are very excited to be the pilot venue. The 100 Club has always attempted to be a leader in bringing new music to the forefront and this is an opportunity to be leading the way in getting Grassroots Music Venues (GMV’s) and the entire hospitality industry open again after the dire consequences of Covid-19. We also see this as an opportunity to future proof the venue should the world be brought to its knees again at some point down the road by another pandemic.”

Making air safer indoors is an additional, important measure that, to date, has been largely overlooked. Indoor air is communal air regardless of social distancing. (This explains how 10 people from three families eating in a Guangzhou, China restaurant[2] became infected earlier in the year simply by being in the pathway of the air conditioning unit’s airflow.)

The Pathogen Reduction System’s ability to clean indoor air by inactivating deadly airborne pathogens like Sars-CoV-2 offers entertainment venues the second line of defence within the ‘Test, Clean, Prevent’ (TCP) safety model proposed by The Music Venue Trust as a more practical alternative to HFS.

Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd said, “In the UK risk management is currently built around Hands, Face, Space, which act together to prevent the spread of infection. Whilst effective it’s impossible to enforce in a live music setting and, with capacity reduced to an average 24% of normal, financially impractical to impose. We need a model like TCP that works to prevent the virus entering our events, disables it if it squeezes in, and prevents it from harming anyone if it makes it past those two layers.

“Using the Pathogen Reduction System as part of a ‘Test, Clean, Prevent’ approach creates the opportunity for economically viable increased capacity events. Government has invested huge amounts of money into mothballing venues or supporting limited capacity events reliant upon adherence to HFS by the individual. For a fraction of this cost, it could work with the live music industry to develop and deliver a comprehensive TCP approach to live events, remove the reliance on HFS by individuals, and create an economically viable sector with a negligible infection risk.”

Helping the indoors of public buildings like theatres and music venues to become safer spaces through safer air, is not only key in fighting back against COVID-19, it’s an essential step towards future-proofing the economy and public-health against future pandemics and deadly-viruses.

PRS’s Founding Chairman Ian Sinclair comments, “We are extremely excited to be bringing this technology to market and believe this is an important step forward in the long-term fight against COVID 19. There has been talk of the scientific cavalry – we believe our technology can strengthen this cavalry greatly not just now – but for the future.

Beyond the immediate pandemic, the system’s ability to deactivate other harmful airborne pathogens means we can help buildings and businesses be future ready. We are in talks with leading operators across health, business, construction and the entertainment industry who can all see that PRS could be the key to them opening up sooner and more safely – getting the economy moving again and saving vital industries and the livelihoods they support.”