Amrita Hospital launches a low-cost air purifier kit for healthcare workers
Kochi, Kerala, India
Amrita Hospitals and AMMACHI Labs have collaborated to develop from scratch a type of protection equipment for healthcare workers that will be much more affordable in developing countries. It protects from infection via aerosolized virus particles, and of course, is of urgent need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The kit is called PAPR - short for Powered Air Purifying Respirator - and is used to supply purified air to medical professionals in infection-prone areas. PAPRs are generally safer, more comfortable, and reusable as compared to the PPEs (personal protective equipment) used in conjunction with N95 masks. But the high price has meant they have not been widely used in developing nations.
Until recently, all the PAPRs in India were imported and cost from $1000 to $2000 US. Meanwhile, the kit developed at Amrita is less than $400 US. The decision to create it locally was a small but sure step towards making India self-reliant for its healthcare needs. On a global level, the developers ensured that Amrita PAPR meets all the standards of the American National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Amrita PAPR uses a filter that is more than 99.995% virus-filtration efficient, weighs less than 1.5 kg, and houses more than 10 hours of battery time. The airflow is more than 10 CFM (cubic feet per minute), and so provides more comfort in a humid country like India. The NIOSH standard requirement is just 6 CFM. As well, the noise level is kept under 68 decibels inside the hood, making communication better than some of the commercially available PAPRs.
On January 13, 2021, AMMACHI Labs and Amrita Hospitals launched the product jointly. Twenty kits will be tested by medical professionals at Amrita Hospital in Kochi. Omnex Inc is an international consulting, training and software development organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, US. Once all the feedback and design improvements for Amrita PAPR have been incorporated, Omnex Inc will scale up the device and launch it on the market.
Dr Bhavani R Rao is the Director of AMMACHI Labs and says the inventiveness of the scientists, doctors, and engineers from several Amrita institutions has come together during the pandemic for one cause - to use cutting edge social innovations like PAPR to find solutions for this challenging time.
Swami Dayamritananda, the Executive Director of Mata Amritanandamayi Centers of North America, adds that supporting medical workers in this way also carries the potential to help people from all walks of life, thereby creating a tangible impact upon society.