Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death worldwide. Increased efforts to combat COVID-19 and other recent outbreaks like Ebola and Middle East respiratory syndrome cases have highlighted the challenges involved with patient logistics. Enter the EU-funded EpiShuttle 2.0 project that has launched its eponymous solution: a hard-top polycarbonate, reusable specialised isolation unit (SIU). The project factsheet states: “The EpiShuttle is a one-person SIU, providing complete protection from contagious diseases, without compromising advanced treatment and care to the patient.” EpiShuttle was developed by doctors and engineers at EpiGuard. Quoted in a press release, EpiGuard CEO Ellen Cathrine Andersen says: “We must be able to transport COVID-19 patients to where capacity is available, only then can we utilize the full capacity of the entire health care system and ensure treatment.” She adds: “Healthcare workers are making an admirable effort transporting patients and at the same time putting their own heath on the line, but if we have to disinfect all helicopters, aircrafts and ambulances after each transport, the whole system may collapse.” She also emphasises the importance of safe transport of infected patients inside the hospital. “A hospital is the one place you find the highest concentration of people at risk, where infections will have serious consequences,” Andersen adds, noting that the isolation stretcher could be beneficial for isolating “both very vulnerable patients and the virus. The isolation stretcher can also be used with overpressure for transport of very vulnerable patients, ensuring that these patients are not inflicted with outside infection.” The EpiShuttle 2.0 (EpiShuttle: Isolation and Transportation of Infectious Disease Patients) project will run until end-October 2021. “Under the EpiShuttle 2.0 initiative, EpiGuard aims to combine modern gas disinfection technology with EpiShuttle to make their technology cost-effective and applicable for the wider global market,” according to CORDIS.
In addition to EpiShuttle, the EU supports several other technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing and monitoring the Coronavirus outbreak. The European Commission recently called for start-ups and SMEs to apply for the next round of funding from the European Innovation Council. In its news release, which also highlights EpiShuttle 2.0 the Commission also refers to the project mTAP (Taking to market a novel filtration system for air purification). mTAP involves the application of filtration technology for particles between 1 and 100 microns in size, from bacteria to pollen, using ceramic material. For more information, please see: EpiShuttle 2.0 project website