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Medical ventilator

Medical ventilator

Medical ventilators and COVID-19

Individuals with severe cases of COVID-19 experience acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and these critically ill patients are placed on a ventilator as the main supportive treatment. In severe COVID-19 inflammation restricts the amount of oxygen an individual can take in. Ventilators force oxygen into the lungs and usually involves incubation. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing the demand for ventilators to overwhelm hospitals.

Types of Medical Ventilation

Invasive mechanical ventilation is a lifesaving intervention for patients with respiratory failure. The most commonly used modes of mechanical ventilation are assist-control, synchronized intermittent mandatory ventilation, and pressure support ventilation. When employed as a diagnostic tool, the ventilator provides data on the static compliance of the respiratory system and airway resistance. The clinical scenario and the data obtained from the ventilator allow the clinician to provide effective and safe invasive mechanical ventilation through manipulation of the ventilator settings. While life-sustaining in many circumstances, mechanical ventilation may also be toxic and should be withdrawn when clinically appropriate.

Noninvasive Ventilation is mechanical ventilation without the use of an endotracheal tube or tracheotomy. The two main types are positive-pressure and negative-pressure noninvasive ventilation. With the former, positive pressure is applied to the airway to inflate the lungs directly. With negative-pressure ventilation, negative pressure is applied to the abdomen and thorax to draw air into the lungs through the upper airway.

Ventilator shortage solutions
  • VentFree muscle stimulator by Liberate Medical shortens time to wean off mechanical ventilation
  • 1 million ventilators project is on to crowdsource ventilator designs and raise funding for ventilators that are inexpensive and easy to ship and use
  • Modification of a single ventilator to ventilate four patients at a time
  • Pandemic Ventilator Projects is a crowdsourcing a project to provide DIY ventilator solutions. Their designs utilize components such as computer fans, dust masks, and HEPA filter material. The masks are for preventive use.
  • Just One Giant Lab (JOGL) is non-profit decentralized open research and innovation laboratory hosting the OpenCovid19 Initiative. A project aiming to collectively create open-source and low-cost tools and methodologies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects established through JOGL (as of March 18, 2020 ) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic include a ventilator project (hardware) and an O2 concentrator project (hardware).
  • Gas Control Equipment is a company that produces gas control products as well as healthcare products. The company provides portable oxygen concentrators, and operates on a global scale.
  • Veterinary suppliers: DRE Veterinary provides a variety of new and refurbished respiratory ventilators for adult, pediatric, and infant patients' use. Ugo Basile manufactures and provides animal care equipment including respiratory ventilators.
  • Dyson, a British technology company known for their vacuums and bladeless fans, has been asked by the United Kingdom government to design and produce 10,000 ventilators. They will provide 15,000 total units (5,000 for international purposes) that are specifically geared towards coronavirus patients' needs beginning early April, 2020.
  • Gtech is a British technology company that manufactures and designs vacuum cleaners and power tools. They have been asked by the United Kingdom's government to produce 30,000 ventilators in response to the demand created by COVID-19. They have shared designs with external companies to assist with mass manufacturing.
  • General Motors has received a presidential directive from Donald Trump ordering them to increase production of medical ventilators and surgical masks. The look to produce 10,000 ventilators per month, and up to 50,000 surgical masks per week.
  • MIT has designed a low-cost, basic ventilator that requires manual operation for patients to receive breathing assistance.
  • Computrol has committed itself to manufacturing 1,800 circuit boards for ventilators per month in an effort to support ventilator manufacturers during the pandemic.
  • O-Two Medical Technologies has partnered with the Province of Ontario to manufacture 10,000 ventilators to support hospital efforts against the pandemic.

Medical ventilator companies


Further Resources



Rob Davies
April 15, 2020
the Guardian
An intensive care unit for coronavirus patients in Milton Keynes. The ESO2 device could be distributed to hospitals from next week. Photograph: Roger Garfield/Alamy


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