HealthcareResearchNHS reduces Covid hospital infections with air filter machines

The installation of 80 machines at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, UK, finds that air filter machines remove almost all traces of airborne Covid virus and other viruses.
Content Team2 years ago5 min

Pioneering research by Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridgeshire in the UK, has resulted in air filter machines being installed across the Trust to help reduce the risk of Covid infection for patients and staff. The installation of 80 machines follows research carried out on Covid wards at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

“We have proved these machines dramatically reduce air borne infections so it makes sense to have many more of them” Andrew Turner, CUH engineer

Andrew Turner is an engineer at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (CUH) and was part of the research team, working alongside doctors and scientists from the University of Cambridge.

“For the initial study we used two air filter machines, but the results were so dramatic it made sense to get many more and use them across the Trust to help reduce outbreaks of infection. Now we have a total of 80 machines, most of them bought by the Trust but many also donated by manufacturers.”

A number of air filters units have been installed in clinics where airborne infection is a particular risk, including endoscopy, maxillofacial and lung function

The majority however are designated to particular areas by the infection control team and moved around the site to where they are most needed.

This includes general wards being converted to treat patients with Covid and the emergency department.

Each machine has cost the Trust around £5,000 alongside maintenance costs.

Dr Vilas Navapurkar led the study and is a consultant in intensive care medicine at CUH.

An airfilter machine and Dr Vilas Navapurkar, who conceived and led the study
*An air filter machine and Dr Vilas Navapurkar, who conceived and led the study.

He said: “Because of the numbers of patients being admitted with Covid, hospitals have had to use wards not designed for managing respiratory infections. Our study showed that portable air filtration devices, which are relatively inexpensive, remove airborne SARS-CoV-2 and other micro organisms that cause infection which may make these wards safer.”

The research was supported by Wellcome, the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.


A further study is now underway to assess how effective air cleaning is at reducing infection risk.

Conway Morris, A, et al. The removal of airborne SARS-CoV-2 and other microbial bioaerosols by air filtration on COVID-19 surge units. Clin Inf Dis; 30 Oct 2021; DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciab933

*Image credit: Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

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