22 May 2020
In the face of an unprecedented and evolving COVID-19 pandemic, Temasek Foundation and its like-minded partners have been exploring and testing new solutions that can help in our fight against this virus.
We take the perspective that no one is safe, until everyone is safe.
Such solutions include the negative pressure system COMET transporters for ferrying COVID-19 patients, safely for both patients and drivers. Twenty COMET MAXIs have been rolled out, with more on the way.
A separate track is prototyping a range of safe swabbing booths, which can be used by hospitals or family physicians in various settings.
Another solution currently being explored is the Clean Lane and Clean Booth initiative.
Individuals working at places with COVID-19 patients or locations with significant COVID-19 outbreaks, face a greater risk of COVID-19 infection, through interactions with patients and contact with fomites or contaminated surfaces in the environment.
For instance, hand washing is generally regarded as an important way to reduce the risk of transferring respiratory pathogens from fomites to the face, or from place to place.
It is yet unclear whether there are other transmission routes for fomites other than through the hands.
However, we would like to err on the side of abundant caution, especially when volunteers are in touch with thousands of patients and potential patients.
One potential solution to help provide an added layer of protection is the Clean Lane sanitiser mist system.
We have studied various options and research literature, before embarking on prototypes for trials to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of such systems.
The Clean Lane project does not use highly flammable alcohol based disinfectants such as high concentration ethanol or isopropanol. Corrosive and potentially dangerous solution such as bleach based disinfectants have also been ruled out. We are still doing literature studies on other alternatives.
Meanwhile, we have chosen to use for our trials, a non-toxic, zero-alcohol and non-flammable disinfectant based on 0.1% Benzalkonium Chloride (BKC), that has been found to be effective against germs including coronaviruses.
Trials of the sanitiser mist systems are being conducted at selected venues. This includes the Community Care Facility at Singapore EXPO & MAX Atria. On-site staff have the option of trying out different variants of the Clean Lane prototypes, but must comply with strict safety measures, including the use of protective eyewear.
Initial user feedback has been positive. More importantly, we are pleased to note that users view it as an added protection, on top of important practices such as washing our hands regularly, safe distancing measures and wearing masks. In other words, they do not have a false sense of security with the use of these ancillary facilities.
Temasek Foundation is also collaborating with local research and educational institutes to assess the Clean Lane systems for different aspects of user safety, and efficacy in reducing microbial load, from bacteria to non-enveloped viruses. Studies on eye safety and other aspects are in progress.
To-date, we have embarked on a whole series of Stay Prepared projects with the purpose of ensuring safety or providing better safety for both patients and caregivers, as well as for other staff, volunteers and the broader community. Thus, safety is of utmost priority to us.
Temasek Foundation will review the safety and efficacy data together with our research and operational partners, at each stage of our trials, to ensure that the Clean Lane systems meet all safety requirements for users, before deciding on the best way and form factor to deploy such systems.
We will continue to refine and improve our solutions with data validation and will be happy to explore all options or inputs from all interested parties.
We welcome opportunities to work with partners, agencies, research and academic institutions, as well as companies large and small, both in Singapore and abroad, to learn, or find or scale solutions.
We look forward to being able to contribute to the safety of our community, in any way that we can, as we work to complement all other efforts to bring everyone through safely in this pandemic.
More info on tests:
Singapore National Eye Centre is running tests to assess eye safety when the sanitiser mist comes into contact with the eyes. In addition, ST Engineering Innosparks is also helping to assess potential inhalation exposure of the sanitiser mist and assess the effectiveness of protective masks to minimise inhalation.
Research partners including Nanyang Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic are also running field and lab tests to assess the effectiveness of the systems in reducing microbial load, from bacteria to non-enveloped viruses.