Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, a dermatologist in the Photomedicine unit at Henry Ford Health, says he may have a solution to the urgent need for health care workers to be able to re-use their masks in the fight against Coronavirus. And it’s as simple as light. “We came together and looked at what could we do to understand using light, specifically UVC light, to allow us to repurpose personal protective equipment,” says the doctor.
A partnership was soon formed with the Ohio-based company Daavlin, known for their work in phototherapy which is a medical treatment that involves exposure to light, such as LEDs. “We ended up being able to work with them to identify a specific wavelength, distance, as well as the strength of radiation to make sure that we could kill the virus. We use phototherapy equipment in our offices all the time to treat skin diseases,” says Dr. Hamzavi. “Daavlin was able to repurpose their devices, put in the UVC lamps, then we brought it to Detroit and we tested it against actual masks.”
Dr Hamzavi says his team was able to show that they could keep the integrity of the mask while killing the virus and then the health care worker could potentially reuse the mask though there is one caveat — not all masks perform the same and not all light is equal. For instance you couldn’t use a basic UV lamp to kill the cirus. “There’s a lot of photomedicine that’s behind this,” Dr. Hamzavi explains.
“We’re really trying to show that our nurses, our docs, our PAs, our nurse practitioners, our staff in the ICUs and the ERs that we got their back, and we have allowed the very best minds in photomedicine to create a protocol in four days that usually takes about two years to do,” says Dr. Hamzavi.
The study is to be published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.