Open source initiative in a bid to battle COVID-19

It is becoming a part of normal daily discussion that contracting the COVID-19 can be a less harmful experience for the young and those with healthy, robust lungs. However, as we know, the elderly and those with chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes are faced with a very different scenario. If people with weakened immune systems contract COVID-19, this can be much more serious, requiring ventilator assistance to squeeze air and oxygen into the lungs just to keep the patient alive, as the immune systems battles the virus.

Prognosis’ shows that as the virus spreads at a rapid rate throughout a country, even the small number of vulnerable people infected in the whole population can easily outnumber the amount of respirators that are available to treat them, particularly if they all contract the illness at the same time.

The ever-apparent awareness of the shortage of ventilators has now been recognized as a real problem when it comes to fighting COVID-19.

Forbes, have stated that hospitals in the US have around 62,000 functional machines that are ready and waiting, and a further 99,000 older models that could be pushed back into service at the touch of a button. When reading, this may sound like a reassuring number, but if the infection in the US follows the same pattern as the one in Italy, even this impressive number will be rendered completely insufficient. And if we are to look at the projections, healthcare providers need to act quickly.

Forbes has said that it is possible for ventilator manufacturers to boost production, but as with everything else these days, production relies on a long and complicated supply chain for parts and then the final assembly of the product. And then of course, we need to train the people who assemble it and someone to test the product to ensure it functions properly.

There has been an open source effort in an attempt to design ventilators collaboratively, using available materials, for large-scale production all over the world. This could be one of the answers to an increasing problem.

Within days, it was announced on Twitter and Facebook in a bid to find expressions of interest. The group was described as,

 “a place for engineers, designers, medical professionals, and communities to generate and validate ideas for open source designs of ventilators that can be produced at scale and made available for use by clinical staff to save lives and aid the recovery of COVID-19 patients.”

On Monday the 16th March, the project had launched its website, complete with logo and was attracting a mass attention on all major social media sites and interested parties with the required skills and knowledge rushed to sign up to the fight.

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