TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University (NCKUH) is showcasing a new nebulizer that is expected to significantly reduce the risk of coronavirus infection for frontline healthcare workers during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The scuba diving mask-inspired respirator prototype was created by Dr. Kao Chia-lung (高嘉隆) and Dr. Lin Chih-hao (林志豪), two months after the COVID outbreak began in early 2020. Kao told Taiwan News the product, a full-face nebulizer mask, can effectively curb the spread of the virus through respiratory droplets in indoor environments.
Patients can wear the innovative mask to filter out virus particles through an embedded high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter on the top of the mask. When the drug is administered through the nebulizer, the virus will not be released into the air.
Dr. Kao Chia-lung (right). (Taiwan News photo)
Deputy Superintendent of Tainan Hospital, Dr. Cheng Hsiu-chi (鄭修琦), said due to the experience of combating severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, Taiwanese doctors learned that incorrect handling of patients led to a higher probability of infections among people working in the same hospital. This was found to be the case with the use of nebulizers, in particular, and this experience may partially explain why Taiwan has dodged a big outbreak this time.
Kao's concept of a scuba diving mask as a nebulizer can effortlessly be transformed into a respiratory protective device with a drug delivery device detached from the mask, resembling a mini mobile quarantine facility. This means travelers can wear it before boarding a plane bound for Taiwan, thereby protecting passengers from the risk of infection.
The full face nebulizer mask can function as an oxygen respirator, but is only one-fourth of the price of a positive-pressure mask, Kao said. Demand is expected to be huge given its utility and friendly pricing for general consumers as well as medical institutions.
The team has obtained a Taiwan patent and is applying for European and American patents.
(Taiwan News photo)