According to the WHO (World Health Organization), one in every six patients affected by coronavirus becomes seriously ill to a point where they develop breathing difficulties and need ventilators to stay alive. But what are these ventilators and how are they used to fight against coronavirus? Do we have enough ventilators to treat all patients? This article gives all the details you need to know about the importance of ventilators for coronavirus treatment, a key device in fighting against covid19
Why do we need ventilators for coronavirus treatment?
Our breathing process is not just a simple inhaling and exhaling process. It is a complex process involving lungs that supplies oxygen to other organs. According to health experts, in case of a severe coronavirus infection when the virus affects the lungs, our body’s immune system tries to fight against the virus by expanding the blood vessels so that more immune cells can enter into our lungs.
But during this process, other fluids can also enter into the lungs making it harder to breathe. This will lead to a respiratory arrest where you can’t breathe and the organs are no longer supplied with the oxygen and when oxygen circulation ceases, your heart also stops beating and within a few minutes, it will result in death.This is why we need ventilators to artificially perform the breathing process when our body is not able to do it.
What are ventilators?
Basically, a ventilator is a sophisticated medical instrument that controls the patient’s airflow to and from the lungs, thus supporting their breathing process until the patient recovers from the disease. Currently, there are two types of ventilators used to treat the patients- the mechanical ventilation (Invasive ventilation) where a tube is pushed through the mouth or nose into the windpipe to support breathing. Non-invasive ventilation where a face mask is fitted over nose and mouth and the air is passed through it.
How do they work?
A ventilator pushes air with increased levels of oxygen into the lungs. Simple. Right? Well, actually no. While the function may seem simple, the operation is extremely complex. Because modern ventilators need to adapt to the patient’s body condition considering the pressure, temperature, air composition including other things to operate in a reliable way. These modern ventilators also have a humidifier, which controls the heat and moisture of the medical air suiting the patient’s body temperature.
Current difficulties in using ventilators for coronavirus treatment:
Most estimates state that India has only around 57,000 ventilators available as of now and some of these aren’t even in working condition. But as per Brookings report, in a worst-case scenario, India might need 110,000-220,000 ventilators by May 15. To address this issue, the Government has ordered more ventilators, but still, as most of the spare parts come from other countries where the industries are yet to start their production amid their own coronavirus crisis, it is difficult to cope up with the demands.
Difficulty in manufacturing:
As per the government specification, a ventilator should be a turbine, compressor-based because the installation sites might not have central oxygen lines. Also, the machine should have invasive, non-invasive and Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) features and continuous working capability for 4-5 days to make them versatile. Given these constraints and the current situation of difficulty in obtaining the spare parts, industries are finding it difficult to start their production.
Cost of ventilators:
The cost of ventilators ranges from INR 400000 for the basic electric ventilators in hospitals to INR 15,00000 for the high-end models. While conventional ventilators are expensive and difficult to manufacture in a short period, many Indian companies including Mahindra & Mahindra is working hard to manufacture low-cost portable ventilators. Even young entrepreneurs and college graduates in India are trying to find feasible solutions using 3D printers and other innovative methods for solving this crisis.
Ease of use:
Even if someone comes us with a solution, another difficulty is the ease of use. The machine must be easy for health care professionals to use and easy to operate. Also, in a more severe outbreak, the machine must be feasible to use even in remote villages with no electricity. But as an intermediate solution, health experts urge the use of ‘Ambu bag’, an old model of ventilators that are portable but hand-powered. The nurses or doctors have to manually pump these ventilators to keep the airflow stable. Reports say that some industries are also working to automate the pumping process in these ‘Ambu bags’ to use it as an intermediate solution.
Thus, these are everything you need to know about ventilators and currently, India is working hard to stop covid19 and produce ventilators, the key device in fighting against coronavirus