Swiss researchers develop low-cost coronavirus ventilator ‘while working from home’

Swiss researchers develop low-cost coronavirus ventilator 'while working from home'
A prototype of the new ventilator. Photo: Nicola Pitaro/ETH Zurich
Despite communicating via video chat while working from home, Swiss researchers have developed a compact and cost-effective ventilator to assist patients battling the coronavirus.
Researchers in Switzerland have developed a ’simple, compact, modular and cost-effective’ ventilator which can be used to assist patients suffering from the coronavirus. 

Led by professor Kristina Shea at ETH Zurich, the ventilator will be made available for countries with lower medical budgets. 

READ: International interest grows in Switzerland's 'game-changing' coronavirus antibody test

The ventilator, named ‘Breathe’, has been developed by the team despite several of them being forced to work from home due to coronavirus restrictions. 

“It is not easy if the team can’t meet in person and has to do all the work from home,” Shea said in a statement. 

“As an engineer, I am used to taking things in hand and getting a haptic impression.”

Shea was initially scheduled to complete a sabbatical in March, however was called into action when it became clear inexpensive ventilators were in high demand due to the spread of the pandemic. 

The ventilators cost less than CHF5,000 ($US5,100). Normally costing around CHF20,000 ($US20,500), the price of new ventilators has risen as high as CHF50,000 ($US51,440) since the outbreak of the virus. 

With the second prototype completed a week ago and awaiting technical inspection, the researchers hope to have the device ready in the coming weeks. 

Shortages of ventilators have been a major problem in countries across the globe since the outbreak of the virus. 

The device is easy to control with only a few buttons and a simple digital display.

The device came from an open source design originally developed by researchers at the United States’ MIT university. 

In a statement, the researchers explained the device's functionality: 

“The heart of the new ventilator is a resuscitator bag, called Ambubag, which is common in emergency medicine. This is clamped in an engine block. The motor drives two paddles attached to the side of the bag, which compress it in a predetermined rhythm and thus pump air.”

 

 


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