A team of engineers and medics at the University of Southampton have developed a prototype of a personal respirator for front line health care staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is an increasingly high demand for disposable surgical and FFP3 facemasks in hospitals. Moreover, they are not available in some health care settings. The personal respirator could be used to overcome the possible shortage of personal protective equipment.
The early-stage prototype comprises a fabric hood covering the wearer’s head, integrated with a plastic visor for face protection. Clean air passing through a high-efficiency particulate air filter is delivered to the wearer by a battery-powered fan pack mounted on a belt.
The prototype which utilises off-the-shelf components has been appreciated by doctors, nurses and patients during the initial demonstrations at the hospital. It will be further tested by doctors and nurses in their day-to-day work to provide feedback on comfort and usability.
Once the prototype successfully passes tests and obtains the required safety certifications, the designs will be published open-source for manufacturers and organisations across the world.
Professor Paul Elkington from the University of Southampton said: "We must minimise the risk of infection for medical staff and stop them getting sick at the peak of the pandemic, so that they can care for others. The engineering team have rapidly developed something simple yet effective."