Durham, N.C. – There is continued panic across most media platforms in relation to the coronavirus, or COVID-19. The media continues to push story after story to drive fear into the heart of Americans. One such narrative has been in regards to the shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE.
Healthcare organizations across the state are sharing concerns over the shortage of N95 respirator masks. These masks are commonly used when precautions need to be taken by healthcare workers for potential infectious disease. NBC News ran an article about this referring to California’s challenges. This story is consistent across the country, with shortage after shortage being disclosed.
But rather than panic, private industry is looking for ways to innovate. One such innovation comes out of Duke Health, where research and clinical teams have confirmed a way to decontaminate these N95 masks. Currently, once the mask has been used it would be disposed of. The new decontamination method will help eliminate this waste.
According to the release, the researchers are using a process that has been used in the past for other areas of the health system.
The process uses specialized equipment to aerosolize hydrogen peroxide, which permeates the layers of the mask to kills germs, including viruses, without degrading the mask material. “This is a decontamination technology and method we’ve used for years in our biocontainment laboratory,” said Scott Alderman, associate director of the Duke Regional Biocontainment Laboratory.
The ability to use this process is a huge game changer for the PPE shortages that are facing the healthcare industry currently. The process had been considered previously, but never adopted until now. Dr. Monte Brown from Duke Health says that even if the mask can only be reused once, it’s a huge benefit.
According to FDA research on the subject, they found the process to be effective for up to 50 times of decontamination. The FDA research was performed by a private research firm. These are continued examples of private industry innovating. The idea that the government must control all aspects of the healthcare system are misguided. Private industry can and will continue to innovate to get us through this coronavirus situation.
We have seen this innovation across a lot of different aspects of our economy. Restaurants have transitioned to take out specialists in many parts of the country. Wal-Mart and other retailers have found the ability to hire, while millions have filed for unemployment. As the situation continues to evolve, private industry continues to adapt.
It will take a while for normalcy to return amidst all the chaos. Some jobs and businesses may never be the same, but it should not scare anyone. As a nation, we have always adapted and overcome these types of obstacles. Yes, it may be difficult now, but we will learn and be better in the future.
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