Coronavirus: IIT Hyderabad calls for adopting alternatives to ventilators
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad on Monday suggested the Centre to consider adopting 'bag valve mask' as an alternative to meet any surge in demand for ventilators, both in India and abroad, to treat COVID-19 patients.
This suggestion was made by the institute director Professor BS Murty.
While the conventional ventilators are expensive, hard to produce, and not portable, Prof Murty and Prof V Eswaran, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, IIT-Hyderabad, highlighted that 'bag valve masks' are small devices.
They said the devices are used to deliver breathing support in emergency situations. Besides, the equipment is inexpensive, easy to produce, and portable and have every quality that is required in this crisis, a press release from the institute said.
The two experts proposed that the Central government, through the Department of Science and Technology/Defence Research and Development Organisation or some other nodal organisation, constitute a taskforce which would carry out the tasks needed to start the production of these low-cost ventilators, within a maximum time-frame of two months.
The production rate thereafter would need to be of several lakh units per week, so the preparation has to be done at a war-footing, under the direct scrutiny of the highest levels of Government, they said in the release.
Of the 15 percent of COVID-19 affected patients who may need hospitalisation, around one-third (5 percent) would likely develop respiratory difficulties for which ventilators for assisted breathing would become necessary.
The professors said while bag valve masks are currently hand-powered and therefore not suitable for continuous use as a ventilator, it would be easy to design a similar device powered by an electrical source, which could be a car battery, apart from the conventional power supply.
It could be made portable, and therefore adopted in villages and other areas without power supply and be inexpensive enough to manufacture in bulk.
Elaborating on the advantages of this system, the two professors said,
"Our estimate of the cost is that it can be manufactured for less than Rs 5000 or one-hundredth the cost of a conventional machine. The cost is so low that it can be considered a single-use device that will be given over to single patient, and never used again."
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)