Following the national prioritisation process established by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust guidelines to help researchers delivering Covid-19 studies, the NIHR Brain Injury MedTech Co-operative (MIC) has been focusing on pandemic related projects and research at a local and national level.

The MIC received 15 completed expressions of interest forms, each of which was reviewed and received formal feedback. Although some funds have been contributed, the MIC has also partnered on a UKRI application as well as provided expertise on technology development.


Healthcare workers need face shields in addition to masks and goggles to provide protection from splashes and sprays of infected bodily fluids from Covid-19 patients during a number of high-risk medical procedures and situations. There is currently a significant shortage of face shields globally, which is likely to be particularly severe in less wealthy regions without the ability to buy or manufacture necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as easily or quickly as wealthy countries.

HappyShield is a new open-source design for a simple, foldable face shield for infection control developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The aim of this project is to develop a set of designs for face shields which are safe, cheap, easy to mass-produce quickly using materials, equipment, and labour available in low and middle-income regions, are easy to reuse, and are comfortable enough to be worn for extended periods by healthcare workers without inducing pain or discomfort.

This effort has yielded HappyShield, which successfully meets these design goals.

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Panoramic facemask™

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Public Health England and the World Health Organisation advocated the wearing of masks or face coverings to reduce transmission of the virus. The increasing adoption of masks presents challenges for people with hearing impairment, or those with difficulties understanding spoken language.

The Clinical Engineering Innovation (CEI) Team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge was initially approached by a member of nursing staff who is hard of hearing, so a project was implemented to create the Panoramic facemask™ that would allow lip-reading and better visibility of facial expression and non-verbal cues, with equivalent filtration performance as a standard mask. This need was also supported as a national project by the Chief Scientific Officer for England’s office. Research and stakeholder consultation carried out by CEI indicated that the need to wear masks is also preventing several clinical investigations, interventions and treatments requiring a clear “line of sight” to the mouth, lips, tongue and teeth.

To date, CEI has developed several prototypes that will address these concerns, allowing more of the face to be visible, potentially allowing for the resumption of interventions requiring the modelling of oral and facial postures such as treatment for dyspraxia and dysphagia. The prototypes have been tested and developed alongside representatives from a range of staff and patient groups, and we have now settled on two overall designs which fit the needs of our hospital. CEI are conducting production trials with manufacturing partners and are progressing to standardised testing against the requirements for Type IIR surgical masks. CEI have utilised part of their NIHR Brain Injury MIC to fund prototype development, and plan to utilise the rest on lab testing to test the efficacy of certain elements of the design.

A website to find out everything you need to know about COVID-19!

The NIHR is also supporting a new website by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) called Coronavirus: the science explained, which lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic and its control. Topics are divided in four main themes and you will find out about the course of infection and disease, how the virus spreads through the populations and who is at risk and why, the latest progress made in diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines and all about the control measures such as quarantine and social distancing.

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