Coronavirus: This Ohio innovation is capturing the nation’s attention

ajc.com

A lab in West Jefferson, Ohio, is home to a machine that Ohio leaders regard as game-changing in the health care battle against COVID-19.

The Battelle “CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System” is able to sterilize and prepare for reuse tens of thousands of respirator face masks every day.

The technology was important enough to be the subject of a phone call from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to President Donald Trump Sunday. DeWine urged the president to push the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to permit an expanded emergency use of the technology.

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DeWine, in fact, called slowing down use of the technology “reckless.”

The machine is capable of decontaminating up to 80,000 respirator masks per system each day using concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapor, Battelle has said.

“The respirator masks are exposed to the validated concentration level for 2.5 hours to decontaminate biological contaminates, including SARS-CoV-2,” Columbus-based Battelle said in a news release. The machine “can decontaminate the same respirator mask up to 20 times without degrading the mask’s performance.”

Battelle is training people on how to use the systems.

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“The ultimate objective is to be able to figure out how to safely, efficiently and effectively decontaminate PPEs (personal protective equipment),” Matt Zemanek, division manager for Battelle’s national security business, said in a company explanatory video shared with the Dayton Daily News.

The goal is to run the systems 24-7 wherever they are deployed, Zemanek said.

The stakes could not be higher. Health care providers need sterile protective face masks and gear to test and treat patients facing COVID-19.

As DeWine explained in a hastily called press conference Sunday, nurses and doctors are using their masks longer than they should at the moment because new gear simply isn’t available, and they have no other choice.

Research with the FDA centered on the new technology has been ongoing since 2016, another Battelle employee, Will Richter, Battelle biologist and principal research scientist, in another new video shared from the private, non-profit company.

“With that, we know we can decontaminate things from anthrax all the way down to COVD2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS),” Richter said.

Battelle has a small Dayton-area presence — essentially a one-person office in Beavercreek.