UK team develops Covid-19 field ventilator

A multidisciplinary UK team has developed a potentially life-saving Covid-19 field ventilator to treat patients in poor and remote parts of the world.

Covid-19 field ventilator
The ventilator went from initial idea to prototype in three weeks

The team of academic and industrial engineers, manufacturers and clinicians have created a low-cost Covid-19 field ventilator that uses a windscreen wiper motor, cam and lever system and a standard Ambu (Ambulance) Bag to ventilate the patient.  The unit, which went from an idea to testing in three weeks, is designed to run in remote parts of the world on battery, solar panels, wind turbines or mains power.

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“This is a rapidly escalating situation and there is an urgent need for ventilators in low and middle income countries [LMIC].  We know from our work with technical and clinical partners from various regions that there will be a much greater need over the coming weeks and months due to the rapid spread of COVID-19,” said team member Nachi Chockalingam, a Professor of Clinical Biomechanics at Staffordshire University.

“The Field Ventilator system is designed to be modular, with power management, alarms and monitoring available as an add-on module, should resources not be available locally.  Further, as the name implies, it is designed to function and withstand the much harsher environment found outside the average hospital, such as that found in a field hospital or rural community health service.”

According to Staffordshire University, the Covid-19 field ventilator permits the patient to be started off with manual Ambu bag ventilation which can be placed in the machine once the patient is stable and able to receive ventilation automatically.

The Covid-19 field ventilator project was led by Brian Back, founder and CEO of Radio Data Networks and the not-for-profit Zero Pollution Network.

“We are keen to address the needs of the developing world. During the design phase, it has been important to take into consideration factors like the climate, expertise, infrastructure and lack of power,” he said in a statement. “Beyond Covid-19 we believe the system should still have a place for use in a village environment to supplement the manual manipulation of Ambu type bags during more regular procedures such as childbirth and minor surgery.”