Would you wear this on the subway? Spaceman-style helmet with air filters to catch coronavirus will begin shipping next month with a price tag of £140
Luke Andrews for Mail Online I 19 May 2020
A coronavirus face mask that looks better suited to space travel than the daily commute will begin shipping to customers at the end of this month.
The BioVYZR 1.0 is fitted with a motor-powered fan that pushes air through filters, removing harmful pathogens, and a large visor to stop users touching their faces and transmitting the infection.
It was created by Canadian start-up VYZR technologies, and has so far received more than £204,000 investment from supporters including doctors, nurses and dentists through crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.
The high tech mask hit the assembly lines last month. It is expected to cost around £141 when it goes on general sale.
It comes amid rampant speculation that standard face masks may not offer adequate protection from the coronavirus.
Users attach the mask with a large strap around the chest and breathe normally.
Air is sucked in by a fan at the back of the mask, behind the head, and pushed through filters. It is then expelled through the sides of the mask.
BioVYZR's co-founder Yezin Al-Qaysi says the futuristic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) stops almost all airborne pathogens getting to its user.
'We're in the grips of a fiery debate over whether Covid-19 is transmitted only by large droplets, or through aerosols as well,' he said.
'Until a scientific consensus crystallizes, we'll need PPE that can effectively prevent airborne transmission of COVID-19. That s why we made the BioVYZR.'
Production of the textile part of the mask has already begun, while en-masse production of its air purification system is due to begin shortly, an update posted on May 17 reads.
All masks, which are being built in China, will be constructed to meet the demands of working in a hospital.
Official guidance from the UK government on whether wearing even a simple face mask helps to slow the disease spread has been patchy, although experts are now leaning towards the view that something is better than nothing.
A review of scientific literature by the University of East Anglia found masks have a 'small protective effect' that could shield elderly and vulnerable people.
But they said the evidence was not strong enough to recommend their widespread use.
A University of Oxford study published on March 30 concluded that surgical masks and medical-grade N95 masks are just as effective at stopping the spread of infection as each other.
Data from countries where mask wearing has been enforced suggests they may curb the spread of infection.
Austria took this step on April 6, following a spike in infections, and saw its rate of infection drop from 90 per million people to ten in less than a fortnight.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia were the first two European countries to make masks compulsory, and they have both recorded tiny infection rates.