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Agile method: PPEs manufactured, recycled and reused

Acute shortage of PPEs put doctors’ lives into grave risk which inspired us to come up with a solution for their quick manufacture and reuse

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We propose a solution to both increase the supply of Protective Personal Equipment (PPEs) like face-masks and Hazmat suits and also reuse used PPEs to make up for shortages if any in the interim period when PPEs have been ordered and are yet to be delivered to the hospital. 

1. Involve both companies and local tailors for manufacture of PPE’s with respect to CDC/WHO/govt standards

Source the required materials that are according to WHO recommendations from cloth manufacturers. The PPEs should be designed by the designers of the companies following WHO guidelines. After that, these(material and designs) should be transported to a group of pre-identified tailors. After the PPEs are sewed, they are to be collected from the tailors from a particular region twice a week and stored in a warehouse which should follow WHO guidelines. From there, this should be transferred to hospitals where the medical staff should conduct a stringent check on the quality of the PPEs. The cloth manufacturing companies already have well established supply chains to use for this activity. Instead of transporting their clothes to shops, they can transport PPEs to designated hospitals. This system will not only reduce the shortage but also provide employment to many people who have lost their sources of income due to various government restrictions on movement and lock-down.


2. Disinfect suits and masks using CDC approved methods like Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), Vaporous hydrogen peroxide (VHP) etc. 

We recommend delegation of this job to hospital staff/health workers in presence of a doctor to oversee the proper cleansing of PPEs for reuse. Health workers and doctors involved in the re-sanitizing process must wear a mask, non-sterile gloves and Hazmat suit at all times throughout the procedure. Proper hand sanitizing methods have to be used before picking up contaminated masks and immediately after placing them in a UVGI/VHP Chamber. Also use Moist Heat methods after UVGI to ensure that any remaining traces of the virus are removed. Then place them in properly sanitized boxes/packages for enabling re-distribution to hospital doctors.

CDC recommended methodology for UVGI, VHP  and Moist Heat:

1. Vaporous hydrogen peroxide (VHP)
Treatment level:

Battelle report: Bioquell Clarus C HPV generator: The HPV cycle included a 10 min conditioning phase, 20 min gassing phase at 2 g/min, 150 min dwell phase at 0.5 g/min, and 300 min of aeration.
Bergman et. al.: Room Bio-Decontamination Service (RBDS™, BIOQUELL UK Ltd, Andover, UK), which utilizes four portable modules: the Clarus® R HPV generator (utilizing 30% H2O2), the Clarus R20 aeration unit, an instrumentation module and a control computer. Room concentration = 8 g/m3, 15 min dwell, 125-min total cycle time.
Kenney personal communication: Bioquell BQ-50 generator: The HPV cycle included a 10 minute conditioning phase, 30–40 min gassing phase at 16 g/min, 25 min dwell phase, and a 150 min aeration phase.

2. Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI)
Treatment level: 0.5–1.8 J/cm2

3. Moist Heat Incubation
Treatment level: 15–30 min (60°C, 80% RH)

What is the need are you focusing on?

Medical staff use PPEs while treating Covid-19 patients. However a sudden surge in the number of Covid-19 cases and travel restrictions imposed by several countries have resulted in an acute shortage of PPEs. So countries need to locally manufacture PPEs in required numbers rather than depending on imports from other countries. The fact that these PPEs are disposed of after a single time use only aggravates the problem. Hence, medical staff who are at the frontline of the battle against the corona virus, are at highest risk of infection. Also if these frontline workers start getting sick, the entire hospital chain can collapse since there would be no one to take care of infected patients. As a result, it is the need of the hour to make available sufficient quantities of PPEs as soon as possible.

What is the best example of business adaption you’ve seen in response to COVID-19?

Sweden’s H&M said that it would use its vast supply network to source personal protective equipment for hospitals in the European Union to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Inditex, which owns the Zara brand, offered to make hospital garments, or scrubs, for stretched hospitals in its home country, Spain to meet its needs for protective gear. This example directly addresses the problem of PPE shortage and shows how big companies can put the resources at their disposal to help governments and communities cope in difficult situations like the Covid-19 pandemic. This act of generosity has also inspired us to implement a similar strategy in our home country where several people have gone jobless due to the government imposed lockdown and hospitals face a severe shortage of critical protective gear.

What is your profession?

Systems Engineer and Senior Associate

Where are you located (country)?


Where are you located (region)?

  • Southern Asia

Which industry do you work in?

  • Engineering/Architecture
  • Technology


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