healthcare worker wearing Personal Protective Equipment

As the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding, Delox is finding a way to support the healthcare system in the fight against the infectious outbreak. Every hospital currently suffers a major shortage of protective equipment for the health personnel on the front line of the combat against the virus. As a result, there is a high number of nurses and doctors putting themselves at an immense risk of contracting the coronavirus while treating the patients. To address this critical problem, Delox joined forces with the Portuguese Army, the University of Lisbon and Fardas 3B company to develop a project aiming at decontamination of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as common N95 respirators, masks and gowns. Once decontaminated, they could be safely reused by health care personnel, thus reducing waste and costs, and ultimately decreasing the shortage. This week we will initiate the project REUSE within the consortium in order to later implement it at the Armed Forces Hospital in Lisbon. 

REUSE is the result of a project previously developed by Delox and the Laboratory of Bromatology and Biological Defense (LBBD) of the Portuguese Army. The DRACO (Decontamination of Oxidizing Particles by Gaseous Aerosol) project started before the COVID-19 pandemic and its objective is to test the effectiveness of the decontamination method developed and patented by our company. So far, we have concluded two successful pilot programs in the context of this project with the LBBD. The laboratory’s principal investigator, Wilson Antunes, stressed that the most resistant bacterial spores were used during these tests, and were effectively eliminated by the Delox bio-decontamination technology. These results inherently driven the partnership to develop the next project — this time tackling one of the most challenging situations that we all are going through in decades — the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Now, as the pandemic is disrupting the healthcare system, and we are stepping up our efforts to help to combat it and ease the post-COVID-19 relief period. The REUSE project is essentially an adaptation of the Delox bio-decontamination device for small enclosed spaces. The consortium is designing a transportable decontamination chamber where the current Delox device will be used to decontaminate a large amount of protective equipment pieces at the Armed Forces Hospital. Simultaneously, we will be developing a smaller version of the device for personal use. Such a compact device will resolve additional issue that bio-decontamination of protective equipment faces, namely, healthcare personnel should request their own masks to be returned to them, both for issues of fit and to reduce the possibility of cross-contamination — decontamination in mass quantities complicates this process.   

The REUSE project has been recently funded by RESEARCH 4 COVID-19, a special program promoted by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the Biomedical Clinical Research and Innovation Agency. Altogether, these organizations approved 66 projects aimed at “stimulate collaborative R&D networks, as well as the redirection of activities in R&D units supported by FCT to R&D initiatives that meet the needs of the National Health Service (SNS)”.  

The consortium of the REUSE project is composed of Delox, the Laboratory of Bromatology and Biological Defense, the Military Academy Research Centre, the Armed Forces Hospitaland the University of Lisbon — the consortium’s leader. Additionally, it is supported by the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (IAPMEI) and Fardas 3B.