The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic’s details are constantly in flux, but one thing that seems to have remained the same is the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers on the frontlines of the response.
That is why nearly 5,000 Canadian companies have volunteered to manufacture products to help fight COVID-19.
Companies are halting usual production, collaborating, and retooling to deliver essential medical equipment to the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.
As infection rates climb and the world awaits a vaccine, below is a snapshot among the thousands of companies innovating to meet urgent shortages across the country and beyond.
Outdoor apparel companies are making medical gowns
Canada Goose is ramping up production of PPE, reopening all of its eight Canadian facilities to produce at least 60,000 gowns per week, with plans to deliver up to 1.5 million, at cost. This announcement builds on its existing commitment to manufacture and donate 14,000 units of gowns and scrubs at no charge.
"With one of the largest Canadian apparel manufacturing infrastructures in the country, we are uniquely positioned to re-tool our facilities and refocus our teams to produce a variety of personal protective equipment — and we are prepared to leverage all of our resources to do what's right for our country," Dani Reiss, their president and CEO, said in a statement.
Any unintentional profits will be donated to national COVID-19 relief funds.
Mustang Survival and Arc'teryx, alongside Boardroom Clothing and KenDor Textiles, pledge to deliver 90,000 gowns to Vancouver Coastal Health. With the material traditionally used for medical gowns in short supply worldwide, they’ve opted to use materials that are normally used for lifejackets, dry suits, and waterproof jackets, to manufacture waterproof isolation gowns.
From pet beds to N95 masks
Novo Textiles normally creates consumer pillows, insert cushions, and dog beds, but it is retooling to produce hospital equipment, including protective bedding, wipeable medical pillows, and surgical masks. Looking forward, awaiting impending equipment, they have the capacity to 100,000 N95 respirator masks per day. With machines running to produce the two variants of masks, the company could create up to 200,000 masks per day for distribution across the country.
Novo is proud to announce #Health#Canada Medical Device manufacturer’s Certification approved today! #mask production starts immediately #surgicalmask#N95masks MADE IN #Canada@NavdeepSBains@CanadianPM@carolejames need masks? Let’s go! #PPE— Novo Textiles (@NovoTextiles) April 1, 2020
Companies are 3D printing reusable face shields
InkSmith pivoted from selling 3D printers and lasers to school boards to using that equipment to manufacture PPE that is disinfectable — and therefore reusable. Refocusing to create The Canadian Shield, Inksmith is hiring locally and, as manufacturing ramps up, will be distributing nationwide.
Together, Molded Precision Components and Sterling Industries are manufacturing new face protection for frontline health care workers called Shield-U. Over the next eight weeks, they’ll be producing 320,000 units per day. They’re also exploring creating a new manufacturing facility to meet mounting demands.
Innovators are reimagining the N95 mask and developing easy-to-produce ventilators
Innovations Solutions Canada has dedicated government funding for research and development to solve equipment shortages and shortcomings. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is on the hunt for a comparable substitute to the N95 mask, searching for alternate materials to mass produce equipment for health care workers.
But, innovation doesn’t stop at personal protective gear. The government is collaborating with Canadian Nobel Prize-winning researcher Art McDonald, who is leading a team of scientists at labs nationwide to develop an easy-to-produce ventilator using off-the-shelf parts that are easily accessible.
On the testing front, the government is backing Spartan Bioscience as it develops a portable COVID-19 test kit for health care providers. On BNN Bloomberg, Founder and CEO Paul Lem said the test is just weeks away from broad distribution.