Due to the highly contagious nature of SARS-CoV-2, medical professionals need to gear up properly to prevent infections. As such, the demand for face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE), and sanitisers are at an all-time high. While some patients experience mild symptoms, others unfortunately require mechanical ventilation. The ones handling the procedure are at a higher risk for transmission since it involves the airways. Therefore, two Charleston, South Carolina residents have pooled their talents to fabricate a protective cover for healthcare workers.

The ones handling this project are David Johnson and Rob Harding, one a boat builder and another an engineer by profession, respectively. This reportedly started when a nurse spotted Taiwanese anesthesiologist Dr. Hsien Yung Lai use an aerosol box to intubate a COVID-19 patient. Using a 3D printer provided by Nucor Steel, they were able to construct a prototype. Then the two came up with an assembly process that will help quickly align the pieces, reports Fox News.

"A CRNA [Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist], who was intubating COVID patients, had seen these intubation shields and asked if I could make her one since there was nowhere to buy one," explains Harding. "She gave me a rough pencil drawing of what it looked like and I told her, 'I'm pretty sure I can make a good version of it." Unlike most aerosol boxes seen in the news, they made some modifications such as a slanted top cover for improved visibility and oblong arm slots to make it more ergonomic.

This is apparently not the first time the IT engineer designed medical-related products. It appears that this is his way to pay it forward for medical workers. He recalls how healthcare professionals cared for his son when he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. "No one came to us and offered us money to cut these," shared Johnson.

Health officials wearing protective gear
Health officials wearing protective gear spray disinfectant in a classroom at a high school in Seoul. Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je

Trident Medical Center anesthesiologist Dr. Jason Wimberly pointed out that "intubating a patient with COVID-19 is a high-risk procedure due to the fact that you're in the patient's airway. You're kind of front and center with the mode of transmission." Thus an aerosol box serves as an added layer of protection.