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EpiShuttle: Isolation and Transportation of Infectious Disease Patients

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EpiShuttle 2.0 (EpiShuttle: Isolation and Transportation of Infectious Disease Patients)

Reporting period: 2020-08-01 to 2022-03-31

The world has been facing an increasing number of dangerous outbreaks of infectious diseases. Examples of such are the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ebola outbreak that killed thousands in West-Africa in 2014-2015, and the outbreaks in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as the recent Monkeypox outbreaks appearing all over the world. In addition, the emerging global threat of antimicrobial resistance is a hindrance to safe transportation of patients outside the epidemic setting.

Safe and efficient transportation of contagious patients is an important step in the treatment and handling of infectious outbreaks. It represents a crucial part in the treatment chain of managing infectious patients where there is a high risk of contamination and spreading of the disease. This has been scientifically proven in the recent COVID-19 pandemic, where healthcare professionals have been at greater risk of catching the disease than the overall population due to being on the frontline and treating and transporting infectious patients.

With more healthcare professionals being infected on the job, healthcare systems lack the necessary staff to operate normally. This situation can lead to overcrowded hospital wards, inefficient treatment and huge backlogs for other patients waiting a long time to be treated. Not to mention the possible loss of lives that could have been saved.

EpiShuttle is a medical device intended to mitigate aforementioned risks. The unit is a single-patient isolation and transport unit, designed to provide maximum patient safety and comfort while allowing critical care and treatment to be performed. It ensures the protection and safety of the patient but also protects healthcare professionals from infection in several settings – on land, by sea or in flight.

The EpiShuttle was developed by clinical experts with first-hand experience in providing advanced treatment and transportation for patients with highly infectious diseases, including Ebola, COVID-19, Monkeypox etc. EpiGuard, the manufacturer of the EpiShuttle aims to develop and manufacture high-end medical equipment for the safe transport of contagious patients.

The objective of this SME program is to:

1. Apply and validate an easier disinfection system based on state-of-the-art disinfection: Hydrogen Peroxide fumigation technology

2. Design a larger version of EpiShuttle: 1) to include intended use as temporary isolation hospital bed; and 2) to cope with the requirements and market feedback where there is a need for wider units

3. Process the device through the US regulatory requirements and FDA approval and through the Chinese regulatory requirements and China National Medical Products Administration (NMPA)
The disinfection protocols, methods, equipment and validation are performed, and the procedures are about to be implemented with the EpiShuttle in clinical use.

The design process for developing modular versions of the device is ongoing, and the first POC prototypes have already been made and tested.

The EpiShuttle is already launched on the US market, and preparation for entry into other regulatory geographies are ongoing.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, EpiShuttle has proved to be a crucial tool for transporting patients with contagious disease without contaminating both the healthcare professionals and the environment.

In the UK, both the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the National Health Service have acquired EpiShuttles to protect their staff from infectious diseases. Irelands’ National Ambulance Service also decided to invest in staff protection and has EpiShuttles available. Air ambulance operators are the most frequent users of the EpiShuttle, transporting patients to distant hospitals. For example, the airliner FAI (Féderation aéronautique internationale) has almost 250 missions, while Greek’s National Centres for Emergency Care have already passed this number.

Apart from the UK, since 2017, EpiGuard has sold EpiShuttles to hospitals, ambulance services, air ambulance companies, and militaries in 30 countries all over the world – including the US.

The additions from the SME project will broaden the market footprint with equipment and procedures for easy disinfection, with modular-based versions of the device to tailor customer needs, and with access to a wide range of geographies.

The response to a pandemic or epidemic is dependent on the healthcare personnel who can work without the risk of being exposed or cross-contaminate the disease to other patients. Transport isolators are of significance in dealing with the response to epidemic.

EpiShuttle has also proved to be the device of choice for transporting patients with other biohazards, such as Novichock. The impact on society of being able to respond to crises with contamination hazards is significant, and the EpiShuttle SME project will have implications on health-response and preparedness in the future.
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