ABRFID Companies Unite Against COVID-19

By Edson Perin

The agency is working to save lives by maintaining the physical integrity of health professionals at the forefront of the war against COVID-19.

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“Save lives.” This has probably been the most pronounced phrase in every corner of the planet lately, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. In the midst of this global health crisis, which in Brazil has so far caused 240 deaths, according to official data from the Ministry of Health, the Brazilian Association of the Radio Frequency Identification Industry (ABRFID) has decided to take a creative and urgent approach: encouraging its associates to transform their factories from making RFID labels to producing shield masks for health professionals.

With the initiative, ABRFID intends to save the lives of those who save lives—that is, to maintain the physical integrity of health professionals who are at the forefront of this war against the invisible enemy known as coronavirus, a microorganism that is destroying the respiratory systems of a large percentage of infected people via a disease called COVID-19, with high lethality among humans, especially the immunosuppressed and the elderly.

Health professionals at Hospital São Paulo receive face-shield masks from an ABRFID member (right).

Roger Davanso, the president of ABRFID, says “This initiative ended up making several companies associated with ABRFID recognize the importance of uniting around the fight against coronavirus and, thus, helping to keep the health system functioning fully, for the benefit of the entire population.” According to Davanso, “It will be even better when more companies, including other associations and sectors of the economy, join this movement.”

Due to the initiative, ABRFID already has orders for more than 3,100 face-shields for such institutions as Hospital Emilio RibasAC Camargo HospitalHospital S. PauloHospital das ClinicasSanta Casa de Misericordia, hospitals in the Araraquara region, Santas Casas in the municipalities of Coqueiral and Nepomuceno, the Cancer Institute of the State of São Paulo, the Emergency Assistance Rescue Group, and Leonor Mendes de Barros Hospital from Tatuapé, in addition to Emergency Care Units in Santo André and São Bernardo do Campo, and public and private entities in Caxias do Sul, in Rio Grande do Sul.

Public hospitals of the Unified Health System (SUS), when requested by ABRFID, will receive the masks free of charge. Mask orders placed by private hospitals will have their payment proceeds reverted to the manufacture of free protective equipment delivered to public hospitals.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), released by Canal CNN Brasil, nearly 20 percent of medical professionals in Italy were contaminated and fell ill due to the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as face-shields. This accelerated the collapse of the health structure of Italy, one of the countries most impacted by the disease.

The intention of the association, which organized a group through Whatsapp, is to protect health professionals. After all, as one associate says, “It is not just hospital equipment that saves lives. The main protagonists are human beings who know how to operate them—that is, health professionals.”

ABRFID’s initiative started a few weeks ago and continued at record speed with the transformation of part of the production line of one of its associates to manufacture shield masks. Then, other ABRFID member companies started to join and bring new ideas, such as inserting RFID tags into face-shields so workers can locate and operate them automatically.

This week, two associated companies formed an agreement to manufacture and distribute face-shields and, at the outset, acquired the equivalent of 12 kilometers of a highly strong and protective material known as TNT Hospitalar—a non-woven fabric for health-care teams. Thanks to the efforts of ABRFID, other companies that are not yet members have already shown interest in participating.

According to the WHO, hospitals cannot operate only with resident doctors. Therefore, the most qualified, experienced and older professionals—who, since they are older, are targets of the coronavirus—need to be in charge of the work and must be protected. In addition to doctors, nurses, nutritionists, dentists and physiotherapists, health professionals include members of the SAMU (Mobile Emergency Service) teams of fire departments, including rescue teams.

Those interested in obtaining ABRFID face-shields or more information should send an email to covid19@abrfid.org.br.