Personal respirator prototype created to protect frontline NHS staff

Engineers working with Formula 1 team McLaren have developed a hood connected to an air filter to be worn to protect frontline healthcare staff from Covid-19.

The University of Southampton hopes the mask, which consists of a fabric hood which covers the head with an integrated plastic visor to protect the face, could soon be in use in hospitals across the country.

Personal respirator created by University of Southampton to protect frontline NHS staff (Ric Gillams/PA)

The personal respirator (PeRSo), which is connected to small portable unit which supplies clean air, has been created to use off-the-shelf components and its design will be open-source to allow its development around the world.

Paul Elkington, professor of respiratory medicine at the university, said: “We must minimise the risk of infection for medical staff and stop them getting sick at the peak of the pandemic, so that they can care for others. 

“The engineering team have rapidly developed something simple yet effective.

“The HEPA filtered air removes 99.95% of particulate matter and the face mask protects from splashes, and so we think this will reduce the risk of infection.”

Personal respirator created by University of Southampton to protect frontline NHS staff (Ric Gillams/PA)

A university spokesman said that its team had worked with McLaren, Kemp Sails and Southampton-based manufacturer INDO on behalf of Baynhams.

He said: “Whilst other personal respirators exist, they also face high demand.

“The successful deployment of this product on a large scale would help to increase the amount of protective equipment available to help keep healthcare workers safe, healthy and able to remain caring for patients.

“Making the design specification accessible online would mean this product could be manufactured in any country without facing export delays or restrictions.”

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