EDMONTON -- An Edmonton-based company has created a medical device it says will provide better protection for healthcare staff from infectious aerosols like COVID-19 while they intubate patients.

MACH32, announced the launch of its new Aerosol Containment Tent (ACT) Wednesday.

The ACT device uses negative pressure and a HEPA filter to contain 99.97 per cent of particles, company officials said. Those particles would otherwise escape into the immediate area. 

Dr. Marc Curial came up with the idea for the ACT in the early days of the pandemic.

“The idea for the ACT or the aerosol containment tent came 100 per cent out of necessity of me trying to save my own skin,” Dr. Curial, co-founder of MACH32 and Edmonton emergency room physician told CTV News Edmonton.

According to Dr. Curial, airway procedures are the most high-risk for exposure to aerosolized COVID-19 particles. 

“I was doing an intubation early in COVID and we were just getting our first set of cases in Edmonton,” he said. “We didn’t really know what to expect and the messaging around protecting yourself hadn’t really hit home yet.”

The Edmonton physician worked with MACH32 co-founder Chris Terriff and a team of engineers to develop the contraption.

“It’s a simple concept that is more difficult to make happen than you’d think,” said Dr. Curial.

MACH32 has partnered with Edmonton-based medical device distributor Andau Medical to pursue adoption in Canadian hospitals.

“Clinicians performing high risk aerosol generating procedures are better protected when procedures are performed under negative pressure,” said Sandi Wright, founder and CEO of Andau Medical. “PPE is not enough, and we need to think beyond face masks to keep our health systems functional and the risk to healthcare personnel and patients as low as possible.”

Dr. Curial says his new medical device means delaying or cancelling elective procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer necessary.

MACH32 officials say their ACT medical device has been approved by Health Canada.