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IISc Bengaluru building ventilator prototype for COVID-19 patients: All you need to know!

The IISc team is working round-the-clock to build the ventilator prototype for the critical COVID-19 cases. 

Apr 3, 2020 15:59 IST
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A team of research scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc) is working on an indigenous ventilator prototype to address the shortage of ventilators in the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The IISc team is working round-the-clock to build the ventilator prototype for the critical COVID-19 cases. The work is expected to be completed within the next couple of weeks.

If the current COVID-19 scenario worsens in the nation then at least 0.006 percent will require critical care with access to ventilators, which amounts to almost 75000 people. This exceeds the current ventilator capacity of the nation. 

Objective

The ventilator is being built to address the shortage that the country could possibly face if the COVID-19 situation goes out of control and a large number of people test positive. 

Key Problem Areas

1. India at present has around 40,000 ventilators spread across different states. If the number of critical coronavirus cases rises uncontrollably, which is possible if community transmission begins, then the nation will need thousands of more ventilators and that too within a short period. Hence, several thousands of ventilators will need to be produced at a fast pace. 

2. The other problem is that many ventilator components are not manufactured in India. They are imported from aboard and due to the disruptions caused in the global supply chains by COVID-19, the Indian manufacturers are finding it difficult to source the key ventilator components such as sensors and flow controllers.

IISc ventilator prototype 

The IISc research team is building a prototype of an electro-mechanical ventilator. The team is building the ventilator right from scratch by using components that are only found or made in India, based on the guidelines notified by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 

For example: 

The IISc team is using reused sedimentation tanks found in RO water purifiers to store and mix air and oxygen. 

To check pressure levels, the team is using sensors similar to those that are used to detect air pressure in car tyres.

Given the critical aspect of controlling the pressure of the gas pumped into the patient, the team is developing a flow rate sensor from scratch, which will show exactly how much air is flowing into the patient's lungs.

They are building the technology so that people can use it free of cost. 

What is a ventilator?

A ventilator is a life-saving machine that provides mechanical ventilation to patients who are unable to breathe properly due to lung damage by moving breathable air in and out of their lungs. The machine is especially important for critical COVID-19 patients who face difficulty in breathing. The ventilator generally has in-built sensors that allow doctors to set the precise volume and pressure of the gas to be pumped into the patient, depending on the severity of their illness.

Why is a ventilator important for critical COVID-19 cases?

The COVID-19 virus is primarily known to attack the lungs of the patients, making it difficult for them to breathe. The severe coronavirus cases have inflamed or damaged lungs, as a result of which, they struggle to receive proper oxygen. In such cases, the ventilator assists their lung function and help pass a controlled mixture of air and oxygen into their body, giving them time to fight the infection.  

Background

The Indian government has urged the auto sector to pitch in to address the shortage. In response, major Indian automobile companies such as Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki are readying themselves to produce ventilators to help combat the health crisis. 

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