Currently, most countries have a shortage of ventilators in hospitals, which is a considerable worry amid the coronavirus outbreak. Considered to be life-saving devices, these are needed to help pump oxygen into coronavirus patients' lungs, which are badly affected by the virus.
Companies such as Dyson, Tesla, Ford, and General Motors are working hard at designing and building ICU ventilators, however, these can take time to first be designed then deemed safe to use.
In the meantime, a group of MIT scientists has created an emergency ventilator, which is affordable, and easily made using regular hospital devices.
The MIT design is available online
A team of volunteers, scientists, physicians, and computer scientists at MIT known as E-Vent put their heads together three weeks ago to revive a 10-year-old ventilator project. The end result is a ventilator design that's affordable and easily replicated.
The total cost of the device for the different parts is between $400 to $500, and the team plans on sharing their design online on their website so that manufacturers and companies can recreate the lifesaving device for hospitals around the world.
The device's main part already exists in most hospitals' inventory: Ambu resuscitation bags. Usually, these are manually operated by emergency technicians or medical professionals to keep the patient breathing until they are hooked up to a ventilator.
The team at MIT has adapted the Ambu bags by attaching them to an automated mechanism that automatically pumps the bag with air in the same manner if a human were handling it. This method would alleviate the use of a person standing day and night by a patient's bedside — something that's not currently possible in hospitals that are reaching over-capacity because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus — and keep them breathing long enough to then be strapped to a proper ICU ventilator.
There's no exact date as to when the prototype information will be shared for all to use. However, the team members, who prefer to remain anonymous at this stage so as not to be inundated with requests or questions, have stated that they eventually want to secure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals.
The researchers warn on their website "While it cannot replace an FDA-approved ICU ventilator, in terms of functionality, flexibility, and clinical efficacy, the MIT E-Vent is anticipated to have utility in helping free up existing supply or in life-or-death situations when there is no other option."