Assessment of COVID‑19 Droplets in a Clinical Setting to Reduce the Risk to Health Care Providers

Karatas, Ahmet | $50,000

Ontario Ryerson University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic continues to grow rapidly with over 85,000 confirmed cases in Canada. While efforts are being made to develop pharmaceutical SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) remedies, a COVID‑19 vaccine still has a 12-18-month horizon according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This means that COVID‑19 related hospitalizations will continue to stress our healthcare system. It is estimated that healthcare providers make up 1 in 7 known COVID‑19 cases in Ontario. There is therefore an immediate need to protect our frontline health care professionals.

Our partner organization, Unity Health Toronto, is in need of practical clinical guidelines to effectively use limited personal protective equipment sources. This requires an understanding of aerosol and droplet dispersion in a clinical setting. For example, critical information such as how clinical procedures affect COVID‑19 carrying respiratory droplet release is not known.

This project will develop a droplet-laden flow visualization experimental setup for optical measurements of aerosol and droplet size distribution and dynamics, and volume plume dispersion, in such a way that the platform can be used in both experimental laboratories and in clinical settings. Additionally, our team will develop a mechanical device that can simulate distribution and volume plume dispersion during human expiratory activities (e.g. talking, coughing, and sneezing), and during various clinical procedures, such as endotracheal intubation, or chest compressions. This work will aid Unity Health create practical clinical guidelines to combat COVID-19.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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