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New Low-Cost COVID-19 Ventilator Could Resolve Mechanical Ventilators Shortage in Developing Countries

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 06 Oct 2021
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Image: Low cost emergency ventilator to tackle coronavirus designed by Imperial team (Photo courtesy of Imperial College London)
Image: Low cost emergency ventilator to tackle coronavirus designed by Imperial team (Photo courtesy of Imperial College London)

A new low-cost ventilator design invented during COVID-19 could address the global shortage of ventilators for other respiratory diseases.

The ventilators designed by scientists from the Imperial College London (London, UK) are required by patients in intensive care units (ICU) who are seriously ill with respiratory diseases like COVID-19, flu, and tuberculosis, and are both simpler and cheaper to make than the currently available ventilators. Now, the creators of the designs hope that their promising technology, initially developed for emergency short-term ventilators in response to the coronavirus pandemic, will help to address the shortage of mechanical ventilators in developing countries in the long term.

The researchers behind the ‘RELAVENT’ ventilator (previously known as JAMVENT), have demonstrated that the design achieves all of the performance requirements set out in ISO 80601, the international standard for critical care ventilators. The team also showed that the system performs equally well with a home-use oxygen concentrator as with pressurized gas supplies like those found in hospitals. The researchers have published the designs of the prototype and details of the rigorous testing required for regulatory approval. They hope that following funding and approval as a medical device, the ventilators can be used in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) and newly emerging economies (NEEs), which suffer from an historical long-term shortage of ventilators. The next step towards approval as a medical device will be development from the advanced prototype stage to a mass-manufacturable medical device, which must be carried out under special regulatory conditions.

“Our ventilators are inspired by the beauty of simplicity. Rather than using the complex control valves used in most ventilators, we conceived a way to use simple on-off valves to provide the high-level performance required of ICU ventilators. This way, we have made the technology much cheaper and less expensive to make and maintain,” said lead researcher Dr. Joseph van Batenburg-Sherwood, of Imperial College London’s Department of Bioengineering.

“We are keen to bring our ventilator to as many hospitals as possible to combat serious respiratory diseases worldwide. We have the right technology to help address this unmet medical need and hope to attract investment to help take it further,” added Professor James Moore, Director of Translation for Imperial’s Department of Bioengineering.

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Imperial College London

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