A Physician at the University of Toronto has developed a novel oxygen mask that filters out exhaled coronavirus particles and a virtual care system for an emergency room to help frontline workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Sameer Masood, an emergency room physician at the University Health Network, took it upon himself to create the innovations to arm himself and his colleagues in the battle against the pandemic.

“We’re seeing that a lot of COVID-19 patients are profoundly hypoxic, meaning they have very low levels of oxygen,” explains Masood. 

“The primary treatment, which is supportive in nature, is to provide oxygen. But the challenge is that when you get to high levels of oxygen, you start getting into the issue of aerosolization.” 

oxygen maks

Source: University of Toronto

Masood explains that the ideal solution would be to supply patients with oxygen through a face mask fitted with an exhalation valve, which can filter out the aerosols, but the challenge arises due to short supply.

Short supply of masks means that patients with severe cases of COVID-19, and who require high levels of oxygen, end up being put on a ventilator. 

“We try to really minimise putting patients on a ventilator because we recognise that most patients who don’t need a ventilator, when they go on a ventilator, they don’t do so well.”

Masood’s solution is a regular face mask that is retrofitted with exhalation valves designed using 3D printing and modelling.

With help from his wife, an industrial designer, the pair have now designed that masks after three stages of prototyping, and hope it is just a few modifications away from trial.

Over the coming weeks, the mask will be tested in a University of Toronto lab and its aerosol measured – and could be introduced in clinical environments as early as June.

“COVID-19 has been an impetus in that we’re trying to change the way we think in health care, and we’re realising the importance of clinicians and front-line providers having input and contributing actively to anything that’s being built for their utilisation,” Masood concludes.