Researchers in London, Ont., have begun testing a new non-invasive ventilation mask that aims to reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus during treatment while lessening the demand for invasive ventilators.

The effort is being led by the Lawson Health Research Institute, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), University Health Network (UHN) and General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada.

It centres around a mask that was created by modifying a standard firefighter’s mask through 3D printing. The mask can be attached to non-invasive ventilators such as a CPAP machine or a BiPAP machine.

Once fitted, the mask creates tight seals around the patient’s mouth and nose, allowing them to breathe in and out of a filter that captures any viral particles before they are released into the air.

A photo showing the mask attached to a non-invasive ventilator machine.
A photo showing the mask attached to a non-invasive ventilator machine.

Lawson Health Research Institute

The mask also carries the potential to reduce aerosolization when treating patients with COVID-19.  Aerosolization refers to the production of airborne respiratory droplets that may contain viruses or bacteria. The inhalation of these droplets is how coronavirus is commonly spread.

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The reduction in aerosolization also reduces the transmission risk associated with non-invasive ventilators such as CPAP and BiPAP machines.