Ambulance personnel driving COVID-19 patients to the hospital, risk inhaling airborne virus as patients puff pathogens into the air. A novel air filtration technology developed by Copenhagen Science City- based start-up company AirLabs is now being installed in 100 patient transport vehicles operating in London. The aim? To protect the drivers, the staff and the patients inside these vehicles.

Initially intended to protect against pollution

AirLabs was co-founded in 2014 by Matthew Johnson, a University of Copenhagen professor in atmospheric chemistry. One of their first products was the “AirBubbl”, an air filtration unit about the size of a wine bottle especially developed for cars. The company brought it out to protect drivers stuck in traffic while breathing the exhaust of the vehicle in front. When new corona struck, they realized that their device might protect drivers and passengers against this virus too.

Hovering contaminants

When patients cough, sneeze, talk or even breathe, they spread tiny virus-bearing droplets into the air. Some of them small enough to float around for hours. This can spread the infection to anyone close enough to breathe in their exhalations, and there is a direct link between how much virus you inhale and how sick you get. Matthew Johnson is confident that AirLabs’ AirBubbl can help reduce exposure for workers who cannot avoid close contact with coronavirus patients, and for anyone working in essential jobs in enclosed spaces.

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