One of the biggest challenges facing families is how to prevent further transmission of COVID-19 within the home when a loved one is infected. This is particularly important in poorer communities with low vaccination rates, smaller and more crowded houses, poor ventilation, and families working on the frontlines.

This study seeks to understand how improved ventilation and air filtration through low-cost devices in the home might help reduce spread to other family members when someone in the household is infected. Researchers will conduct a small pilot study, larger non-randomized study, and a randomized controlled trial in low-income Bay Area communities to gauge the effectiveness of interventions including ventilation/filtration devices, N95 respirators, instructions to families on safety measures for the home, and daily phone check-ins.  

At the center of this work is health equity.

Principal Investigator Abraar Karan

“At the heart of this work is health equity,” said Stanford Infectious Disease Fellow and Principal Investigator Abraar Karan. “Being able to bring resources into communities that face additional challenges in preventing the spread of infectious diseases in their homes is most compelling to me. Every infection prevented matters. And, if this works well, the model can be applied toward preventing other respiratory infections within the home as well.”

DR. KARAN and collaborators build an at-home air filtration unit from a box fan and MERV16 filter.

Karan added that this work is dedicated to his late mentor, Dr. Paul Farmer, who passed away this year. “He always pushed us to fight for the right to excellent health for all no matter where that may be or who it may be for,” Karan said.

Principal investigator: Abraar Karan

Team: Steve Luby, Professor of Medicine; Vivian Levy, Clinical Associate Professor; Priscilla Romero, San Mateo Medical Center; Jorge Salinas, Hospital Epidemiologist; Lynn Hildemann, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Yvonne Maldonado, Professor of Pediatrics and of Epidemiology and Population Health; Devabhaktuni SriKrishna; Dr. Ranu Dhillon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital)

Funders: Stanford Health Care Research & Health Equity Program

Photo credit: Canva.com