Shortages of personal protective equipment are a serious problem. Re-use and extended use can be considered for certain items under some circumstances, as we’ve discussed previously. Questions about how to safely reuse or extend the use of disposable items we’ve taken for granted as being endlessly available weren’t a high priority before the COVID-19 pandemic, but now they have come to the forefront. Some good, quick studies have looked at things like re-processing of N95 masks, and that’s been really helpful.
I debated posting this at all, but a bit of levity sometimes is a good thing too. To nominally look at re-use of non-sterile exam gloves, but more as an interesting activity, two of my daughters and I did a little evaluation entitled:
An underpowered and somewhat half-assed evaluation of two reprocessing methods for extended use of examination gloves (Weese family, 2020)
I’ve mentioned the mixed aspects of pre-print servers such as BioRxiv (pronounced “bio archive,” if you’re trying to figure that out), where authors can put papers for release before peer review. Some are very good and advance notice is critical (like the experimental model study that was posted and soon after was published in Science), but many papers on these sites will never get past peer review because they are poor quality. So, while there can be great info there, something with the rigour (or lack thereof) of my “study” above can also be posted (maybe with a title change but I’m not sure even that would be required). Articles only “undergo a basic screening process for offensive and/or non-scientific content and for material that might pose a health or biosecurity risk.” The quality of the science of my “study” probably hits that bar.
I’ll just use this as another reminder of the potential benefits (rapid dissemination of information about emerging problems) and concerns (unscrutinized nature of the information) of pre-print servers, and to highlight how critical it is for anyone considering information from those sites to remember it’s not peer reviewed and that they need to scrutinize it carefully themselves.