A team of engineers and physicians at the University of California San Diego has developed a low-cost, easy-to-use emergency ventilator for COVID-19 patients that is built around a ventilator bag usually found in ambulances, according to a university release on Wednesday.
The team built an automated system around the bag and brought down the cost of an emergency ventilator to just 500 U.S. dollars per unit. By comparison, state of the art ventilators currently cost at least 50,000 U.S. dollars.
The device's components can be rapidly fabricated and the ventilator can be assembled in just 15 minutes. The device's electronics and sensors rely on a robust supply chain from fields not related to healthcare that are unlikely to be affected by shortages, according to the release.
The ventilator can safely meet the diverse requirements of COVID-19 patients because it can adjust over the broad ranges of respiration parameters needed to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome, said James Friend, a professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
Researchers also wanted to make sure that the device could be used by healthcare workers with limited experience with ventilators and no experience with this type of system, said Casper Petersen, a project scientist in the Department of Anesthesiology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.