Evidence-based guidance for mitigating COVID‑19 virus droplet transmission and surface contamination
The proposed research, in collaboration with a major manufacturer of personal protective equipment (PPE) (3M Canada) and a company specializing in instrumentation and medical device design (Corus Product Design), brings together engineers and virologists at Western to develop and implement a novel aerosolization chamber in the new $16 million biocontainment level 3 ImPaKT lab that will allow aerosols of COVID‑19 to be produced, via a new pulsed generator, that closely mimic those from coughs and sneezes. Samples of different materials, including PPE, will be placed in the chamber to examine the transport and deposition of viral droplets on their surface under different temperature and humidity conditions. This more realistic approach removes the adhesion and penetration bias associated with the current practice of directly placing droplets on the surface using pipettes or syringes, which has implications on the subsequent effectiveness of any PPE decontamination procedures. There is particular urgency for Canada in undertaking reliable COVID‑19 transmission and surface decontamination experiments, under different ambient conditions, because there is evidence from other countries that indoor air-conditioned public spaces (e.g. shopping malls) may promote transmission during the summer months. The collaboration with 3M Canada will allow the research findings related to the use and decontamination of PPE to be effectively communicated to product users as well as to regulatory bodies, whilst Corus Product Design will assist in the development of the final version of the facility that they will then market to research laboratories world-wide, together with test methodologies and procedures, to ensure that such research and testing is conducted in a standardized manner, with COVID‑19 and any future viruses.