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The Struggle Against Covid-19

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Simple Inexpensive Ventilator Now in Development

April 8th 2020

Medical bag

A team of researchers and technicians from the Philipps University of Marburg and the University Hospital Gießen and Marburg (UKGM) has developed two different concepts for simple ventilators in a very short time, in view of fears that ventilation capacities might not be sufficient in the corona pandemic. The devices can be manufactured quickly and inexpensively and can be used in situations where clinics no longer have sufficient regular ventilation places available.

The first concept is based on the use of so-called CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) devices. These devices are used, for example, to treat sleep apnea and are available in many private households. The CPAP devices will be expanded so that they can be used for artificial respiration. The first prototypes are already running and have been given a very positive evaluation by relevant doctors at Marburg University Hospital. At present, the company is looking for production possibilities for the devices.

Since the modified CPAP devices are not as powerful as professional ventilators, they are not suitable for the initial treatment of acute, severe Covid-19 cases with severe respiratory distress. Clinical ventilators must be used for such cases. However, if patients have recovered sufficiently after a few days to require less intensive ventilation, the modified CPAP devices could be used for ventilation. Clinical ventilators would then be free again and would be available for the next person with acute problems.

For countries where CPAP devices are not widespread, the team is currently developing simple devices based on so-called "Ambu Bags" as a second approach. These "Ambu Bags" or resuscitation bags are used in first aid for first aid and are available in large quantities at low cost. They consist of a mask that is pressed onto the face and a compressible bag that is compressed by hand at regular intervals for ventilation. The team is now developing mechanical devices that compress the bags periodically.

The aim of the team is to make all technical information and construction instructions publicly available. This should make it possible to reproduce the devices worldwide and produce them in larger quantities.

"Our senior physicians confirm that the devices developed would be used as the 'last line of defense' for ventilation if there was no other option," explained the Medical Director of the Marburg University Hospital, Prof. Dr. Harald Renz. "In Germany we are currently comparatively well positioned. However, there are other regions of the world where one would certainly be grateful to use these devices in the 'first line of defense'.

The team is currently looking for premises and financial means for production.


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