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COVID-19: Low-cost PPE evaluation, decontamination

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Dhaka Combined Military Hospital (CMH) ICU


“Our goal is to provide evidence and tools for resource-constrained settings to maximize usability of existing PPE and evaluate the suitability of alternative, locally-sourced solutions when standard PPE is unavailable.”

COVID-19: Rapid development of guidelines for low-cost PPE evaluation and decontamination for resource-limited settings



The goal of this work is to provide evidence to inform:

1.  the creation and assessment of locally-available protective equipment, when none of the recommended options are available, and

2.  locally appropriate recommendations for conservation of available personal protective equipment (PPE) through extended use and reuse.



Why we care about this

Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) are crucial to managing the current COVID-19 pandemic, yet they risk their own health when PPE is not available. In many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), frontline HCWs have little or no access to PPE recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are left with scant guidance on how to protect themselves. Furthermore, the global demand for PPE and shortages in high-income countries are making PPE supply chains and costs even more inaccessible for LMICs.

Why we see the knowledge we are generating as strategic

If HCWs cannot be adequately protected, vulnerable health systems in low-resource settings may collapse, increasing the COVID-19 case fatality rate due to lack of appropriate supportive care. The purpose of the proposed research is to generate important evidence that will help hospitals in low-income settings extend the life of existing PPE and evaluate the suitability of alternative equipment.

What stage on the Stairway of Research contribution to problem solving

Stage 3 – Develop an intervention to interrupt generation of the problem


Project dates

April 2020 – March 2021


Stage of work

What has been accomplished so far within the project

COVID-19 PPE Guide:  We have developed infographics based on existing evidence for appropriate use, reuse, and decontamination of PPE as well as viable alternatives. 

What are we focusing on now

We are conducting testing on new methods for decontamination and reusability of masks and gloves.



Primary Contact:  Ashley Styczynski

Stanford University

.   Steve Luby, Professor of Medicine

.   Manu Prakash, Associate Professor of Bioengineering

.   Thomas Weiser, Associate Professor of Surgery

.   Thomas Baer, Executive Director, Stanford Photonics Research Center

.   Ashley Styczynski, Infectious Disease Fellow

.   Shailabh Kumar, Postdoctoral Scholar

.   Laura Kwong, Postdoctoral Scholar

.   Yasmin Reyes, Research Manager

.   Alliya Qazi, Postdoctoral Scholar

UC Berkeley

.   Helen Pitchik, Doctoral Candidate

.   Yoshika Crider, Doctoral Candidate

UC San Francisco

.   Nichole Starr, Surgical Resident

Emory University

.   Ajay Pillarisetti, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India

.   Arnab Bhattacharya, Professor of Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science



Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health (CIGH) COVID-19 Seed Grant