Today we are very pleased to announce that the MAS Foundation is supporting an exciting new collaborative research initiative to develop a safe protocol for disinfecting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for potential safe reuse by our frontline healthcare workers.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has severely strained global PPE supplies and led to shortages, which can compromise the health and safety of our frontline healthcare staff. The Foundation is providing a grant of $46,000 to help assist the innovative research being undertaken by teams at the University of Auckland and University of Otago to find a safe and proven solution that can extend the supply of used PPE for potential reuse by doctors, nurses and frontline healthcare workers.

Some leading researchers including Dr Yvonne Anderson from the Faculty of Medical and Health Science (University of Auckland), Dr José Derraik (Liggins Institute), the Taranaki DHB working in collaboration with Bill Anderson (Professor of Engineering, the University of Waterloo, Canada), and New Zealand company UV Solutionz are developing and trialling a process that enables PPE to be safely disinfected for potential reuse.

UV Solutionz specialises in UV disinfection and are in a position to quickly produce UV disinfectant units.

The research team are trialling the process on gowns, surgical masks, N95 masks, face shields and eye wear and aim to demonstrate that the treatment ensures used PPE can potentially be safely reused.

Initial estimates are that the disinfection protocol would increase the available supply of N95 face masks alone by 400 per cent, with the designed system capable of irradiating 300 masks per hour.

The research focuses on a two-step “double-hit” disinfection protocol which proposes a combination of first storing PPE followed by treatment with ultraviolet (UVC) light and dry heat.

The research team have completed an initial review of the scientific literature around double hit protocol disinfection in the 2002-2004 SARS epidemic (SARS-CoV-1).

The next step in the research will see the teams test and refine their protocol with Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu and his team at the University of Otago on actual SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes Covid-19) in a highly contained, safe laboratory at the university’s Dunedin campus.

The research is also being funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund to the tune of $1.3m.

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