Preprint / Version 5

A Personal Respirator Specification for Health-care Workers Treating COVID-19 (PeRSo)




Coronavirus, PPE, Respirator


The SARS-CoV-2 virus infection is a rapidly spreading global pandemic. Recent media coverage has highlighted the importance of protecting health-care workers together with issues surrounding availability and suitability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Around 20% of healthcare workers treating COVID19 cases in Italy have become infected which leads to staff absence at a critical point during the pandemic, and unfortunately in some cases mortality. PPE plays a major role in control programs. Standard PPE such as N95/FFP3 facemasks have limitations such as an ineffective seal during talking or after prolonged use, face shapes which cannot be adequately fitted, and logistical issues ensuring availability of the correct mask for each person. Furthermore, global stock is low, and issues around diagnostic testing specificity and turnaround time may lead to infectious patients receiving care from health care staff who are not wearing appropriate PPE. To address acute shortcomings in PPE availability, we have developed a simple pressurised air purified respirator unit, incorporating a combination of inexpensive and widely available components parts. The prototype was developed to minimise the number and complexity of manufacturing steps with the intention that derivative versions could be developed in many different parts of the world, including low resource settings with minor modification, where transmission could be rapid amongst high population densities. The “Personal Respirator – Southampton” (PeRSo) delivers HEPA filtered air from a battery powered fan-filter assembly through a lightweight hood/face mask that can be comfortably worn for several hours. Initial user feedback provided by doctors and nurses shows the PeRSo prototype was preferred to standard N95/FFP3 masks, being more comfortable, reducing time lost placing and removing PPE between patients, and allowing better communication. Preliminary tests indicate that the device removes microbes and passes the “fit tests” widely used to evaluate face masks. Full verification of the safety and the duration of effectiveness and durability of the device is required, as part of translation into use. Rapid upscale of production is required to protect healthcare workers from infection while the global situation accelerates, so that they can look after patients during the peak of the pandemic.


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2020-04-06 — Updated on 2020-04-06