Coronavirus and beyond: ideas for infection control

in STEMGeekslast year

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Introduction

Coronavirus has spread over the world over the last few months hitting our civilization hard. And by now probably hardly anyone would claim that we were, or even are now, well prepared. Massively confusing perception, massively mistaken models, panic on the one end of the spectrum and denial on the other - all of that became features of our world as the virus made its way around the world.

We have had revelation after revelation coming - what is the mortality? Is it 5% or 0.1%? Is is just like regular flu or something apocalyptic? Is it surviving on surfaces forever or are surfaces not a concern? How many carriers are asymptomatic? How well do they transmit the infection? These questions were legion.

The answers have now emerged to some of those questions, though possibly not to all of them. We know that the virus is mostly transmitting by airborne means though surface-based transmission is also possible.

Hot air treatment technologies

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I apologize for the quality of the drawing - this is not my forte, I freely admit. I am coming up to speed on my CAD skills - but for now this illustrative sketch will have to do.

And no, this is not a sinner being subjected to hellfire. It just depicts a person going through a door, or down a corridor, being subjected to hot air treatment. No, it is not searing hot, it is not going to fry you - all we are talking is the air at about 60C. Yes, it is hot - but we are also talking hot and dry at at about 60C (140F). Taking it for a short duration is not all that difficult. Thus air at that temperature can be blown onto a person directly, or can be blown down hallways or through rooms in order to both deactivate virions in the air and on surfaces. And yes, I chose to say "deactivate" as opposed to "kill" as virion can not be truly said to be alive, thus killing it may not be a viable option (pun intended).

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Image: Pexels

Hot air treatment technology can also be implemented in a portable version, like a leaf-blower (pictured above). In that configuration it can be added to the toolbox of security personnel at venues such as transportation stations, concert halls, schools etc. Especially during the cold time of the year or at night - conditions under which the virus is more likely to survive on peoples' clothes and belongings.

Contactless door opening devices

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Transmission of coronavirus off of surfaces, while less of a factor than originally thought, is still a factor. Since people may touch their face at alsmost any time, it is best to minimize the chance of transmission to their hands. To that end, it would be helpful to develop technology that would allow one to open doors without using one's hands.

A foot panel/push bar is one idea. Optically activated system, or one employing motion detection/face identification is another possibility. Ideally the system should not be dependent on line power which would make it effective even in the event of a power failure.

Space suit for medical professionals

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Image: Pexels

Healthcare workers are logically expected to be at a high risk on infection. Data on how many of them got infected with COVID-19 is spotty but apparently not only are they getting infected - their cases are often quite severe. A number of them had even died.

Why that would be may not be fully understood. The exact mechanism of both infection and further development of infection is not known at present, but several points can be reasonably made. A medical professional may get a higher viral load (more virions) than someone infected under different condition - say, by just walking into an aerosolized cloud of infection in a halway. Said medical professional may also be forced to spend long hours breathing through a mask - thus risking lower blood oxygen levels, being unable to relieve themselves due to workload and restrictions imposed by protective clothing, unable to drink due to necessity to keep the mask on - thus ending up with a compromised immune response.

To make the first responders' work conditions safer and more comfortable it is a good idea to develop a space suit-style protective suit fully protecting them from infection, supplying them with hydration - and possibly nutrition - as well as possibly some waste evacuatation functionality. A first responder may have to work a 12 hour shirt - and they are needed for the effort, they need to stay healthy and the least we can do it provide them technology that would facilitate that.

Light weight full contact face mask

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Yours truly in glasses and a face mask

The effectiveness of face masks has seen much discussion. As to how effective they are, the jury is still out but pretty much all sides agree it is effective at least to some degree.

Some groups, including Sonovia Tech of Israel, have developed bactericidal and viricidal nano-fabrics that have shown promise in controlling viral and bacterial infections. A full face-hugging mask, including eye goggles, will allow the user to only breathe through the nano-fabric and as well as prevent the user from touching their face and prevent infection via that avenue.

Viricidal/batericidal nano-fabric products

Various garments made out of these fabrics may help prevent transmission of various pathogens to and from the skin as well as to and from various body orifices. May or may not be all that effective - but at least that could be something to be researched.

Interested? Let's try to make this happen

It would be great to get these projects going as Open Source projects. There already are precedents - like the Open Lung and Open Source Ventilator project. It would be great to take these ideas and make them a success!

Let me know if you are interested. Spread these ideas. Let us see if that could become reality.

Sources

Human Coronaviruses: Insights into Environmental Resistance and Its Influence on the Development of New Antiseptic Strategies
Chloé Geller, Mihayl Varbanov, and Raphaël E. Duval, Viruses, 12 November 2012

The Coming Pandemic (2005, documentary, Amazon Prime link)

Israeli startup says its nanotech masks and robes may block coronavirus
Shoshanna Solomon, The Times Of Israel, 6 February 2020

Sonovia Tech

The Scientist Whose Doomsday Pandemic Model Predicted Armageddon Just Walked Back The Apocalyptic Predictions
Madeline Osburn, The Federalist, 26 March 2020

Coronavirus can live in the air for hours and on surfaces for days, study finds
N'dea Yancey-Bragg and David Oliver, USA Today, 30 March 2020

How ‘Superspreading’ Events Drive Most COVID-19 Spread
Christie Aschwanden, Scientific American, 23 June 2020

Effects of temperature on COVID-19 transmission
Shrikant Pawar, Aditya Stanam, Mamata Chaudhari and Durga Rayudu, medRxiv, 30 March 2020

True Toll Of COVID-19 On U.S. Health Care Workers Unknown
Christina Jewett and Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News, 15 April 2020

Open Source Ventilator (OSV) Ireland

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