Hospitals attempt to transform snorkeling masks into respirators to combat shortage

Hemani Sheth | Updated on March 31, 2020

Hospitals in Europe are working to transform snorkeling masks using 3D printing to combat the shortage of respirators, following a similar experiment in Italy where over 1,00,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been reported so far.

Hospitals have turned to 3D printing in a bid to cope with the shortage of medical supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Isinnova, a start-up founded by Cristian Fracassi, had attempted to solve a shortage of ventilator valves in some Italian hospitals using 3D printing. It had adapted a product sold by sports good manufacturer Decathlon into a working respiratory system for treatment of the novel coronavirus by tweaking the masks and fitting a custom-made 3D printed valve that fits the top of the masks where the snorkel is meant to go allowing it to easily connect to the ventilator.

The start-up had patented the valve link but later released its designs for other researchers and hospitals to test, it had said in a blog post.

Hospitals outside of Italy have attempted to create similar masks to combat the shortage. Another instance is the Erasme Hospital on the outskirts of Belgium's capital Brussels which is working on transforming similar Decathalon masks, according to media reports.

The hospital began testing of 50 such masks from Monday.

Decathalon released a statement clarifying that the masks are still under testing. It has donated its EasyBreath snorkelling masks for the same to hospitals who have reached out and has blocked the online sales of these masks to maximize supply to health workers.

“Whenever we can help hospitals, we put all our resources at our disposal and share our knowledge. But to date we have not had validation on the fact that solutions really worked and were used by doctors,” it had said in a statement.

“Since our last messages, several hospitals have contacted us to obtain Easybreath masks. We, therefore, made the choice to block the sale of our masks online in order to reserve all the available stock to give it to the nursing staff,” it further said.

The company has also blocked the online sales of its snorkelling masks in Malaysia as well as the demand for the masks surged in the country for testing and research according to an official statement.

Published on March 31, 2020

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