Challenges and future opportunities to unlock the critical supply chain of personal and protective equipment (PPE) encompassing decontamination and reuse under emergency use authorization (EUA) conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic: Through a reflective circularity and sustainability lens
Rowan, Neil J.
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Severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), and the resulting coronavirus disease (COVID-19), was declared a public health emergency of global concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the early months of 2020. There was a marked lack of knowledge to inform national pandemic response plans encompassing appropriate disease mitigation and preparation strategies to constrain and manage COVID-19. For example, the top 16 “most cited” papers published at the start of the pandemic on core knowledge gaps collectively constitute a stagger ing 29,393 citations. Albeit complex, appropriate decontamination modalities have been reported and developed for safe reuse of personal and protective equipment (PPE) under emergency use authorization (EUA) where critical supply chain shortages occur for healthcare workers (HCWs) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Commensurately, these sim ilar methods may provide solutions for the safe decontamination of enormous volumes of PPE waste promoting oppor tunities in the circular bioeconomy that will also protect our environment, habitats and natural capital. The co circulation of the highly transmissive mix of COVID-19 variants of concern (VoC) will continue to challenge our em battled healthcare systems globally for many years to come with an emphasis placed on maintaining effective disease mitigation strategies. This viewpoint article addresses the rationale and key developments in this important area since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and provides an insight into a variety of potential opportunities to unlock the long-term sustainability of single-use medical devices, including waste management.
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