- No more shortages of masks
MONTREAL, May 21, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ - "One of the keys to the fight against the pandemic lies in the availability and sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to guarantee the safety of frontline health professionals and workers, and limit the number of COVID‑19 infections," said SANUVOX President Jocelyn Dame, noting that the company's UVGI (Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) technology has proven itself over the past 25 years in several hundred hospitals, research centres and laboratories in Europe, Asia, the United States and across Canada.
From the start of the crisis, SANUVOX undertook the development of an individual UV-C unit for disinfection of N95 masks. SANUVOX has opted to produce a device with a limited lifespan, yet one that is capable of being produced quickly and at low cost for hospitals and CHSLDs.
In parallel, in France, following discussions between Dr. Normand Brais, Vice-President - Engineering and founder of SANUVOX, and Olivier Perraud, President of Ingenica (sister company of SANUVOX Technologies), Ingenica chose to develop an individual device in an industrialized format for UV‑C decontamination of FFP2 (N95) masks and surgical masks. The device is intended for use in hospitals, nursing homes (CHSLD), as well as by other health professionals (dentists, optometrists, etc.) and industry (hairdressers, restaurateurs, factory workers, etc.).
Beyond the technology, these solutions share the feature of avoiding mass collection and treatment procedures for the recycling of masks and thus avoid any risk of having to wear someone else's mask. These are processes that allow a caregiver to carry out frequent decontaminations as close as possible to the place of care in order to:
- improve the safety of using their mask for lengthy periods by avoiding the accumulation of an excessive viral load,
- avoid handling a contaminated mask when one is forced to remove it to take a sip of water, for example,
- eliminate any risk of cross-contamination between patients when the caregiver is unable to don a new mask between two patients,
- safely extend the life of a mask and re-use it several times during the same week.
This is not a recycling process, but rather a maintenance procedure that extends the life of personal protective equipment.
Using this type of device thus drastically reduces the need for new masks, without compromising the safety and performance of the masks that are used, significantly reduces the volume of medical waste (one can even decontaminate a mask at the end of its life, prior to disposing of it), reduces countries' dependence on imported masks of sometimes dubious quality and allows N95 masks to be reserved for the professionals who desperately need them (CHSLD).
The SterØmask (®) (patent pending), produced by Ingenica in collaboration with Groupe Renault, has been validated by the independent ICARE-approved pharmaceutical laboratory, located in Clermont-Ferrand, after virological and bacteriological tests carried out by laboratories from the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) of Niort-Ploufragan, the P3 laboratory of the Direction générale de l'armement (Directorate General of Armaments) of Vert-Le-Petit, Clermont-Ferrand, demonstrated a reduction of over 99.9999% in SAR-Cov-2 (COVID-19) and a 99.99% reduction in bacterial spores. Production of the device is underway in Renault factories and the production rate is set to rise to 500 units / week by the end of May. Technology transfer is in process for production in Montreal by ABB Canada for commercialization by SANUVOX. An accreditation application has been submitted to Health Canada, based on the validations obtained in France and a response is expected in the coming days.
"Driven by my desire to find vital protective equipment for my daughter, who is a primary care doctor, I also saw the possibility of overcoming the current challenges surrounding the supply of N95 masks, for which buyers from all over the world are fighting tooth and nail," said Normand Brais, who expressed his delight with the fact that tests in France show that each fully sterilized N95 mask can be reused at least a dozen times, and perhaps even more.
The new device is incredibly easy to use, and its selling price allows it to pay for itself in only a few weeks for a group of ten or so people. "It is easy to install, requiring nothing more than plugging it into a wall socket—for example, next to a coffee dispenser, or even next to a service counter—and is user-friendly," added Mr. Brais, specifying that disinfection of a surgical mask will only take 60 seconds, at most.
This Franco-Canadian innovation will be accessible, in all senses of the word, and will surely play a key role in preventing tussles over the limited supply of N95 masks, as well as other protective masks, thereby benefitting the public health of the populations of all continents. It will also pay benefits over the long-term, post-crisis, by significantly reducing the expenditure of public money for disposable equipment that is often imported, and by drastically reducing the ecological impact when disposable masks are used.
Renseignements: Source: Jocelyn Dame - CEO; Dr. Normand Brais, Eng., M.Sc.A., Ph.D. - Founder and Vice-President of Engineering; Contacts: Alexandre Dumas, 514 843-1901 (direct line), 514 898-4636 (cellular), [email protected]; Caroline Des Rosiers, 514 843-2324 (direct line), 514 880-2882 (cellular), [email protected]