According to the WHO (World Health Organization), one in every six patients affected by coronavirus becomes seriously ill to a point where they develop breathing difficulties and need ventilators to stay alive. But what are these ventilators and how are they used to fight against coronavirus? Do we have enough ventilators to treat all patients? This article gives all the details you need to know about the importance of ventilators for coronavirus treatment, a key device in fighting against covid19
Our breathing process is not just asimple inhaling and exhaling process. It is a complex process involving lungsthat supplies oxygen to other organs. According to health experts, in case of asevere coronavirus infection when the virus affects the lungs, our body’simmune system tries to fight against the virus by expanding the blood vesselsso that more immune cells can enter into our lungs.
But during this process, other fluidscan also enter into the lungs making it harder to breathe. This will lead to arespiratory arrest where you can’t breathe and the organs are no longersupplied with the oxygen and when oxygen circulation ceases, your heart alsostops beating and within a few minutes, it will result in death.This is why weneed ventilators to artificially perform the breathing process when our body isnot able to do it.
Basically, a ventilator is asophisticated medical instrument that controls the patient’s airflow to andfrom the lungs, thus supporting their breathing process until the patientrecovers from the disease. Currently, there are two types of ventilators usedto treat the patients- the mechanical ventilation (Invasive ventilation) wherea tube is pushed through the mouth or nose into the windpipe to supportbreathing. Non-invasive ventilation where a face mask is fitted over nose andmouth and the air is passed through it.
How do they work?
A ventilator pushes air withincreased levels of oxygen into the lungs. Simple. Right? Well, actually no.While the function may seem simple, the operation is extremely complex. Becausemodern ventilators need to adapt to the patient’s body condition consideringthe pressure, temperature, air composition including other things to operate ina reliable way. These modern ventilators also have a humidifier, which controlsthe heat and moisture of the medical air suiting the patient’s bodytemperature.
Most estimates state that India has only around 57,000 ventilators available as of now and some of these aren’t even in working condition. But as per Brookings report, in a worst-case scenario, India might need 110,000-220,000 ventilators by May 15. To address this issue, the Government has ordered more ventilators, but still, as most of the spare parts come from other countries where the industries are yet to start their production amid their own coronavirus crisis, it is difficult to cope up with the demands.
Difficulty in manufacturing:
As per the government specification, a ventilator should be a turbine, compressor-based because the installation sites might not have central oxygen lines. Also, the machine should have invasive, non-invasive and Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) features and continuous working capability for 4-5 days to make them versatile. Given these constraints and the current situation of difficulty in obtaining the spare parts, industries are finding it difficult to start their production.
Cost of ventilators:
The cost of ventilators ranges from INR 400000 for the basic electric ventilators in hospitals to INR 15,00000 for the high-end models. While conventional ventilators are expensive and difficult to manufacture in a short period, many Indian companies including Mahindra & Mahindra is working hard to manufacture low-cost portable ventilators. Even young entrepreneurs and college graduates in India are trying to find feasible solutions using 3D printers and other innovative methods for solving this crisis.
Ease of use:
Even if someone comes us with a solution, another difficulty is the ease of use. The machine must be easy for health care professionals to use and easy to operate. Also, in a more severe outbreak, the machine must be feasible to use even in remote villages with no electricity. But as an intermediate solution, health experts urge the use of ‘Ambu bag’, an old model of ventilators that are portable but hand-powered. The nurses or doctors have to manually pump these ventilators to keep the airflow stable. Reports say that some industries are also working to automate the pumping process in these ‘Ambu bags’ to use it as an intermediate solution.
Thus, these are everything you need to know about ventilators and currently, India is working hard to stop covid19 and produce ventilators, the key device in fighting against coronavirus