Ventilator shortages in the US could be on the order of 300,00 to 700, 000 units or more but the estimated supply of existing ventilators in world-wide hospitals was less than 200,000 before the COVID-19 outbreak. A more recent indication is that the US has about 200,000 but still just a fraction of what is needed.
While some of the efforts of teams around the world have been described, there may be a few not so minor details that need to be considered if their designs were produced by concerned individuals. In the US, FDA approval is probably required but if thousands of ventilators could be collected at a central location defined by FEMA, design verification and final testing should be easy enough to resolve and implement. Refer to the rapid FDA approval to prescribe already qualified malaria and arthritis drugs for COVID-19 patients. If the FDA does not want to act quickly, it appears that many countries around the world will find a way to use them.
As noted in Part 1, with 7.8 billion people in the world, if only 0.001% of the capable people participated in building a unit or two of an existing ventilator design of their choosing, the world would have from 78,00 to 156,000 new ventilators in a matter of days. Capable people can be found in universities (students as well as professors) and professional organizations such as the IEEE, SAE, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) although, in some cases, they may be out of their element.
In contrast, skilled trade union members such as electrical, plumbing, air conditioning and refrigeration and mechanics should be rather comfortable assembling an acceptable ventilator design. How about a manufacturing challenge for most built ventilators? University to university. Professional organization to professional organization. Skilled trade to skilled trade. Local chapter to local chapter.
Adapting the motivational phrase that Kevin Costner heard in the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and he (or she) will breathe.”
Filed Under: Hack the Crisis: Engineering through COVID-19, Sensor Tips