Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $250,000 to the University of Colorado to support experiments on the decontamination and safe reuse of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers (HCWs) treating COVID-19 patients. This effort is led by Professor May Chu at the Colorado School of Public Health with collaborators from academic research labs, professional PPE testing laboratories, and infectious disease hospitals around the world.
The aim of this study is to identify simple, executable processes for decontamination of homemade masks, surgical masks, and N95 respirators that can be applied anywhere, from hospitals to low-resource settings, so that HCWs are protected. The results could inform PPE recommendations for HCW protection from bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Professor Chu serves on the WHO's Expert Advisory Committee for COVID-19 and helped lead the United States’ response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
This falls within Open Philanthropy's focus area of biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.