Global Collaboration on a UV-C Cabinet to Decontaminate and Reuse N95 Respirators in Low- and Middle-Income Environments

Working in multidisciplinary, interprofessional teams can leverage varied skill sets to enhance innovation and implementation in crisis situations.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused worldwide shortages in N95 respirators, surgical masks, and other respiratory personal protective equipment, particularly for hospitals in low-income settings. Treatment with ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light is an affordable technology for the decontamination and reuse of N95 respirators in times of critical shortage. Optical engineers, physicists, and clinicians collaborated to develop an affordable, enclosed cabinet to decontaminate N95 respirators with UV-C irradiation in hospital sterile processing areas; units were constructed and implemented locally at 21 hospitals in low- and middle-income countries. Along with this practical grassroots approach to deliver a simple and locally accessible technology, the team’s experience in developing relevant clinical workflows resulted in a rapid and effective implementation of a decontamination process that provided hundreds of thousands of additional N95 respirators for health care provider protection.

Authors: Nichole Starr, MD, MPH, Natnael Gebeyehu, MD, Anderson S. L. Gomes, PhD, E. Rosas, PhD, Tyler N. Chen, MS, Dawit Assefa, PhD, Jared Shless, Jit Bhattacharya, PhD, Arnab Bhattacharya, PhD, David Robinowitz, MD, MHS, MS, et al.