The most worrying symptom in coronavirus infected patients include severe lung damage impairing patients' ability to breathe and to treat such patients the hospitals across the globe is facing an excessive shortage of ventilators. The manufacturers have scaled up their production capacities and are producing as many ventilators as they can. However, the due to massive spread of the pandemic and increasing number of patients each day, the need is to develop and produce low-cost, simple, safe, portable, transportable and precise ventilators on mass scale in quick time. In a quick response to the fast spreading ncovid-19 pandemic, the teams of researchers, scientists, physicians, engineers, clinicians, students, doctors, industry, auto makers, are coming together and globally, with or without funding to develop mass producible ventilators "in time". We are outlining a few of such notable efforts which are underway:
- The team at MIT who call themselves MIT "E-Vent" are working on rapid deployment of low-cost, open source ventilators, in accordance with the FDA guidelines. The proposed ventilator design is simple having a hand-operated plastic pouch called a bag-valve resuscitator, or Ambu bag, which hospitals already have on hand in large quantities. These are designed to provide breaths to a patient in situations like cardiac arrest, until an intervention such as a ventilator becomes available. The design is being refined and is currently being prepared for testing. The encouraging aspect of the proposed ventilator is that it is available to be used, modified and manufactured as "open source". To give this goal a full effect, the details are freely available at e-vent.mit.edu
- Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur has formed a cross disciplinary team to work on the development of inexpensive portable ventilators and will be available at a significantly low price of around 1000 USD. The team has said that the prototype developed is an invasive type mechanical ventilator capable of operating in pressure-controlled mode;
- Dyson, the British technology company best known for its high-powered vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, and fans has designed a new ventilator, the “Covent,” in the past several days, which it will be producing in order to help treat coronavirus patients. The Covent is a bed-mounted and portable ventilator, with the option to run on battery power should the need arise. The company has said that new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume;
- Different governments have asked multiple non-specialist manufacturers, particularly, the automakers like Nissan, Ford, Tesla, General Motors, Airbus to develop and manufacture ventilators at an accelerated pace.
The adoption of patent regimes and open innovation may affect incentives but would certainly spur innovation in medical ventilators and with a significant global need looming more such collaborations are essential.