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Researchers design reusable silicone rubber face mask with N95 filter

“We also wanted to maximise the reusability of the system, and we wanted systems that could be sterilized in many different ways,” Traverso added.

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N-95 mask

New York, July 11 : In fight against novel coronavirus, the researchers have developed a reusable silicone rubber face mask with an N95 filter, which they believe could stop viral particles.

According to the study, published in the British Medical Journal Open, the new masks were designed to be easily sterilized and used many times.

The new mask is made of durable silicone rubber and can be manufactured using injection moulding, which is widely used in factories around the world. It requires much less N95 material than a traditional N95 mask.

“One of the key things we recognized early on was that in order to help meet the demand, we needed to really restrict ourselves to methods that could scale,” said study researcher Giovanni Traverso from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

“We also wanted to maximise the reusability of the system, and we wanted systems that could be sterilized in many different ways,” Traverso added.

The researchers decide on silicone rubber — the material that goes into silicone baking sheets, among other products — because it is so durable.

Liquid silicone rubber can be easily moulded into any shape using injection moulding, a highly automated process that generates products rapidly. The masks are based on the shape of the 3M 1860 style of N95 masks, the type normally used at Brigham and Women”s Hospital.

The researchers tested several different sterilization methods on the silicone masks, including running them through an autoclave (steam sterilizer), putting them in an oven, and soaking them in bleach and in isopropyl alcohol.

They found that after sterilization, the silicone material was undamaged.To test the comfort and fit of the masks, the researchers recruited about 20 health care workers from the emergency department and an oncology clinic at Brigham and Women”s Hospital.

All 20 participants passed the fit test, and they reported that they were able to successfully insert and remove the N95 filter. When asked their preference between the new mask, a typical N95 mask, and a standard surgical mask, most either said they had no preference or preferred the new silicone mask, the researchers said.

They also gave the new mask high ratings for fit and breathability.The researchers are now working on a second version of the mask, which they hope to make more comfortable and durable. They also plan to do additional lab tests measuring the masks” ability to filter viral particles.

Health

Doctors estimate 3-fold rise in deaths of patients waiting for organ transplant during lockdown

Prof Subhash Gupta, Chairman of Centre for Liver and Biliary Sciences, said that the government should step forward and roll out schemes to increase organ donation.

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Corona Death Body

New Delhi, Aug 13 : The nationwide lockdown imposed from March 24 has affected services across sectors, and key areas of medical care were also not left untouched due to the 68-day total shutdown.

In the grip of the coronavirus and lockdown, the life-saving organ transplant procedures had come to a standstill. The hospitals and transplantation centers have experienced a tremendous reduction in the number of organ donations and solid organ (kidney, liver, heart, and lung) transplant procedures, leading to an exponential rise in the deaths of patients who were waiting for critical transplants.

Doctors have estimated that they lost at least thrice the number of patients during lockdown than in normal times due to “waitlist mortality”.

“This is a heart-shattering fact. We have observed a lot of waitlist mortality during the lockdown. The people who expected transplantation have passed away just waiting for their surgery,” said Ushast Dhir, a surgeon in liver transplantation and gastroenterology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.

Dhir said that many patients have died during the lockdown. While it is challenging to assess nationwide figures in the absence of any register, he estimated that his hospital lost patients on the waitlist three times more during the lockdown than normal times.

However, multiple factors like stricter norms due to the Covid-19 pandemic, unavailability of donors, restriction on mobility in lockdown, and the fear of Covid among living donors and the patients, have also played a role in the delayed transplantation that eventually led to the deaths.

No accidents, no organs for transplantation

The doctors said that the primary reason behind the extended wait was the unavailability of organs. The live donors and the patients were hesitant to undergo transplant surgery due to the Covid scare. Meanwhile, the patients who did not have living donors, but needed surgery immediately, were unable to find deceased donors in the lockdown period.

“The majority of the deceased donors come from cases of road accidents. Since vehicles were not plying on the roads during the lockdown, it prevented accident deaths, leading to a huge scarcity of organs for critically-ill patients,” said Harish Manian, CEO of MGM Hospital in Chennai.

Manian also agreed with Dhir that the waitlist mortality was nearly thrice than the pre-lockdown period. “We do not have any exact figures since it is not published anywhere. However, observing the trend, this estimate does not seem like an exaggeration,” he added.

Unreachability to transplantation centres

Pradeep Joshi, who was GI and liver transplant surgeon at the King George Medical College (KGMC) in Lucknow, said that many patients, especially in small towns, would have suffered as they could not have accessed the transplantation centers during the lockdown as they are based in metro and bigger cities.

“The need for transplant is an indication that the patient is at the end-stage. The survival in this condition is up to 6 months, and such terminally-ill patients, who needed transplantation during the lockdown, were unable to get it due to restriction on mobility. Not everyone could afford an air ambulance,” he said.

Stricter norms after the onset of Covid

Apart from immobility and scarcity of donors, another factor that contributed to the waitlist mortality was stricter norms in organ transplantation enforced in view of Covid-19. The doctors opined that these norms had led to a substantial drop in deceased organ donation and transplantation.

As per the latest guidelines, the donor, the recipient, and the close relatives of both have to obtain negative status in the Covid-19 test, before the transplantation process.

Time is the key in transplantation surgery, said Manian.

“The latest norms have extended the whole process of organ transplantation. Earlier, the whole process used to be finished within 24 hours. Now, the documentation alone takes 24 hours. Then allocation and retrieval time and wait for the Covid-19 tests adds an extra 24 hours. Now, the complete process takes around 48 hours or more. It becomes detrimental for the patient and has led to deaths as well,” he said.

Dhir said that waiting for RT-PCR tests for Covid-19 becomes life-threatening for the patients.

“The interval between requesting the family of the deceased donor and procuring the organs already takes much time. Plus sometimes, the hemodynamic stability of the patient is so small that we cannot wait for RT-PCR reports which generally take a long time to arrive,” he said.

However, Dhir and Manian added that the process is mandatory to follow as it ensures the safety of the patient, as if a patient contracts the virus, his or her survival chances decrease by 90 per cent.

Asymptomatic donors pose a significant threat

The doctors also said that the asymptomatic donors are another hurdle in the organ transplantation.

“The RT-PCR test’s false negativity is assumed to be 30 per cent, and that is why the transplants went down substantially in April and May as there was extreme concern about the living donor’s COVID status. If the donor is an asymptomatic carrier and we somehow miss it, the patient would suffer from a lung infection, and it would be difficult for him to survive,” said P.N. Gupta, Head of Nephrology and Kidney Transplant, Paras Hospital in Gurugram.

Despite all this, the experts agreed that the government should step in to facilitate the organ donation service.

Prof Subhash Gupta, Chairman of Centre for Liver and Biliary Sciences, said that the government should step forward and roll out schemes to increase organ donation.

“India’s annual requirement of organ transplantation is nearly 3 lakh but it does only 2,000 to 3,000 transplants. It is a costly surgery, and the governments should subsidise it like other forms of treatment. Besides, they can also make a provision for the donors, or their kin (in case of death) could receive some health benefits against the noble cause of organ donation,” he added.

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‘Young people play important role in helping stop Covid-19 transmission’

“Working together, all of us, old and young, from everywhere in the world, can overcome this pandemic,”

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO

Geneva, Aug 13 : Although most young people are not at high risk of severe disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, they play an important role in the collective responsibility to help stop the virus transmission, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

In celebrating International Youth Day, with a theme of “Youth Engagement for Global Action” this year, the WHO Director-General, together with UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay, recognized young people, youth organizations, and youth networks around the world for their collective action during COVID-19, reports Xinhua news agency.

“This pandemic is having a major impact on the future of young adults — not just from the virus itself, but because of its impacts on the economy, employment, education, and the overall health system,” Tedros said, asking young people to “be informed and make choices about their health to prepare for long and healthy lives”.

“It is critical that we engage with young people now to start the journey to understanding their own health.”

He further left three requests for them.

First, he called on organizations, intuitions and governments “to listen, engage and empower young adults as partners in action. Our future is their future”.

“Second, we have to give young people a much larger role in political decision-making. Their voices often go unheard, even though more than half of the world’s population is under 35 years old.

“Finally, and most importantly, to young adults around the world, I say: Think big and be bold. We count on you for your creativity and your fresh ideas…

“Working together, all of us, old and young, from everywhere in the world, can overcome this pandemic,” he added.

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Over 22,000 ‘Make in India’ ventilators given to states: Centre

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ventilator, prototype

New Delhi, Aug 13 : The Centre on Thursday stated that it has distributed more than 3.04 crore N95 masks and over 1.28 crore PPE kits to states, union territories and Central institutions free of cost in the last five months. Over 22,000 ‘Make in India’ ventilators have also been delivered.

The Centre has been strengthening the health infrastructure to fight the pandemic and effectively manage it. Along with augmenting Covid-19 facilities, the government has been providing medical supplies free of cost to the states and union territories to supplement their efforts.

“Since 11th March 2020, the Union Government has distributed more than 3.04 crore N95 masks and more than 1.28 crore PPE kits to states, UTs, Central Institutions, free of cost. Also, more than 10.83 crore HCQ tablets have been distributed to them,” the government said.

In addition, 22,533 ‘Make in India’ ventilators have been delivered and their “installation and commissioning is also being ensured”.

“Most of the products supplied by the Government of India were not being manufactured in the country in the beginning. The rising global demand due to the pandemic resulted in their scarce availability in the foreign markets,” it added.

As a result, resolve for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ has been strengthened and most of the supplies made by the Union Government are domestically manufactured.

With the combined efforts of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Pharmaceuticals, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and others, the domestic industry has been encouraged and facilitated to manufacture and supply essential medical equipment like PPEs, N95 masks, ventilators, etc., during this period.

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