Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center.
COVID-19 is a threat to the very people fighting it—nurses, doctors, and other first responders, who are exposed to virus-carrying droplets, or aerosols, from infected patients. Now, a team has developed two devices that could reduce their risks by sucking away infectious aerosols: a helmet to be worn by a patient, and a small tent in which a patient could be enclosed. The devices haven’t been proved to work in clinical settings, but their inventors hope they’ll reduce the toll among health care workers, at least 90,000 of whom worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, according to the International Council of Nurses.
Talking and coughing can expel virus-carrying droplets, and medical procedures needed for the sickest COVID-19 patients—such as intubation, tracheostomy, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation—are thought to generate even more aerosol droplets. The tent and helmet would capture them with negative pressure, generated by a pump that draws exhaled air through filters, researchers reported yesterday in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.