Taiwanese doctor invents device to protect US doctors against coronavirus

Taiwanese doctor creates 'Aerosol box' that shields doctors against coronavirus while intubating patients

Lai demonstrating device. 

Lai demonstrating device.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese doctor on Saturday (March 21) released the design for a device that better protects doctors as they intubate patients, as physicians battling the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. are desperately short of protective medical equipment.

On his Facebook page on Saturday, Lai Hsien-yung (賴賢勇), an anesthesiologist at Mennonite Christian Hospital in eastern Taiwan's Hualien, wrote that in January, he began brainstorming about simple solutions to the problem of providing protection for physicians running out of protective gear in China. However, what he did not expect was that two months later he would be receiving inquiries from American doctors, who are facing critical shortages in equipment.

As a growing number of patients must be placed on a ventilator due to severe respiratory complications associated with COVID-19, Lai has designed what he has dubbed the "Aerosol box." The simple device consists of a transparent plastic box with an opening on one side allowing it to fit over the patient's chest and neck, while the opposite side has two small holes through which doctors can insert their hands.

The device is designed to enable physicians to intubate a patient while better shielding themselves from any aerosol particles that could be released from the patient's airway during the procedure. Lai said an acrylic factory created his prototype within just half an hour at the cost of NT$2,000 (US$65.77).

Lai shared his design in the post and emphasized that he is not applying for a patent and does not have any plans to sell it. He said he only wants to share the information so those in need can quickly create a similar apparatus.

Lai has registered his invention under a Creative Commons license, and it is free to the public as long as it is properly attributed to him and is not used for commercial purposes. Lai and his colleagues on Sunday (March 22) uploaded the schematic for the cube on a website, where it can be downloaded for free.

Prototype (top), doctors demonstrating use (bottom). (Aerosol Box website photo)

Demonstration of procedure using device. (Aerosol Box website photo)

Early sketch of device. (Facebook, Lai Hsien-yung photo)

Diagram of prototype. (Aerosol Box website photo)

Close-up view of device. (Facebook, Lai Hsien-yung photo)