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Last Updated : Mar 31, 2020 01:06 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Coronavirus pandemic | Indian collaborators employ 'jugaad' to beat ventilator shortage

Deliveries of 2-way and 4-way splitters to hospitals will begin by the end of this week, as per Gupta, Managing Partner of Singapore-based EthAum Venture Partners


Pankaj Gupta, the founder of a Singapore-based startup, has reportedly brought together 200 volunteers across India to design, build and donate more than 10,000 four-way ventilator splitters for hospitals battling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The new 'jugaad' method would allow one ventilator to be used for two to four patients.

Gupta, the managing partner of Singapore-based EthAum Venture Partners, posted a series of tweets on March 22: “NEED VOLUNTEERS IN ALL THE MAJOR CITIES: Considering, we may run out of ventilators pretty quickly, we need to work on a 4-way splitter solution to save lives. Splitter solution will be truly fast & cost-efficient way of saving 1,000s of lives. I am targeting printed prototyping and testing completed by Wednesday in Jaipur. Need volunteers who could do the same in all the major cities.” (sic)

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One of the learning points was a tweet from Alan Drummond, who is a physician and coroner in a rural United States hospital. On March 18, he - via the micro-blogging site - shared photos of a quick hack their hospitals’ GP anaesthetists (with a PhD in diaphragmatic mechanics) came up with.

Drummond said: “So in ten minutes the evil genius who is one of our GP anaesthetists (with a PhD in diaphragmatic mechanics) increased our rural hospitals ventilator capacity from one to nine!!!” (sic)

The volunteers who include doctors, engineers, 3D printers and entrepreneurs among others, will work on the splitters, personal protective equipment (PPEs) and related solutions, the Hindu BusinessLine reported. They are collaborating via a COVID-19 Fighters Group on WhatsApp and Slack.

A splitter can distribute oxygen to four patients from one ventilator, making it a “cost-efficient, scalable and quick” method, the paper noted.

Ventilators usually run at 20-30 percent capacity as they can push 2,000 ml of oxygen per minute into the lungs of a 280 kg body (patients usually do not weigh this much).

“Therefore, each ventilator can provide enough oxygen for four people who weigh 70 kg each. Doctors also want individual flow controllers for each channel, so we are now developing and testing this feature in Bengaluru in the next two days,” Gupta told the paper.

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“We have tested our splitters on GE, Philips, Siemens and Servo i ventilators. Deliveries of 2-way and 4-way splitters to hospitals will begin by the end of this week,” he added.

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India’s hospitals currently have only 30,000 ventilators and 10,000 more are in the process of being manufactured and delivered, however estimates of 10 million Indian likely to be infected suggest that we would require many more devices, Gupta told the paper.

“Considering we may not have enough time, money and resources to design a new cost-efficient ventilator to combat this situation, we came up with the idea of increasing usage of existing ventilators through splitters,” he said.

Ventilators usually run at 20-30 percent capacity as they can push 2,000 ml of oxygen per minute into the lungs of a 280 kg body (patients usually do not weigh this much). “Therefore, each ventilator can provide enough oxygen for four people who weigh 70 kg each. Doctors also want individual flow controllers for each channel, so we are now developing and testing this feature in Bengaluru in the next two days,” he added.

The version has been tested and liked by doctors at Victoria Hospital (Bengaluru), SKIMS (Srinagar) and SMS Hospital (Jaipur), Gupta said.

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First Published on Mar 31, 2020 01:06 pm
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