COVID19 has created an unprecedented need for ventilators. In Bangladesh, a country of 170 million, we have only 1267 ventilators. To address this need, we, a team of engineers at Stanford and Berkeley started working on ventilators with a plan to build invasive ventilators. After a few rounds of discussions with doctors in Bangladesh, it became abundantly clear that invasive ventilation is not easy, especially in low-resource settings. Then, we started working on a non-invasive ventilator (NIV). Interestingly, Elon Musk suggested CPAP/BiPAP for COVID-19, and faced blowback in twitter – people were concerned with aerosolization of the virus.

Keeping in mind the need for non-invasive ventilation while mitigating the risk of aerosolization of the virus, we designed a non-invasive ventilator with a helmet interface to contain the spread of the virus. Our solution is low-cost, portable, and designed to provide relief to early-stage COVID-19 patients. The NIV provides 0-20 cmH2O pressure with flow rates of 60-180 Lmin-1.

I hope these learnings will be helpful to researchers who are working on ventilator projects in low-to-medium resource counties. Please find the attached preprint describing our project:

Paper title: A low-cost, helmet-based, non-invasive ventilator for COVID-19

Abstract: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has created an unprecedented need for breathing assistance devices. Since the demand for commercial, full-featured ventilators is far higher than the supply capacity, many rapid-response ventilators are being developed for invasive mechanical ventilation of patients. Most of these emergency ventilators utilize mechanical squeezing of bag-valve-masks or Ambu-bags. These “bag squeezer” designs are bulky and heavy, depends on many moving parts, and difficulty to assemble and use. Also, invasive ventilation requires intensive care unit support, which may be unavailable to a vast majority of patients, especially in developing countries. In this work, we present a low-cost (<$200), portable (fits in an 8”x8”x4” box), non-invasive ventilator (NIV), designed to provide relief to early-stage COVID-19 patients in low-resource settings. We used a high-pressure blower fan for providing noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation. Our design supports continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) modes. A common concern of using CPAP or BiPAP for treating COVID-19 patients is the aerosolization of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We used a helmet-based solution that contains the spread of the virus. Our end-to-end solution is compact, low-cost (<$400 including the helmet, viral filters, and a valve), and easy-to-use. Our NIV provides 0-20 cmH2O pressure with flow rates of 60-180 Lmin−1. We hope that our report will encourage implementations and further studies on helmet-based NIV for treating COVID-19 patients in low-resource settings.

Publication:

  1. A low-cost, helmet-based, non-invasive ventilator for COVID-19 Yasser Khan, Hossain Mohammad Fahad, Sifat Muin, and Karthik Gopalan , 2020

    Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has created an unprecedented need for breathing assistance devices. Since the demand for commercial, full-featured ventilators is far higher than the supply capacity, many rapid-response ventilators are being developed for invasive mechanical ventilation of patients. Most of these emergency ventilators utilize mechanical squeezing of bag-valve-masks or Ambu-bags. These "bag squeezer" designs are bulky and heavy, depends on many moving parts, and difficulty to assemble and use. Also, invasive ventilation requires intensive care unit support, which may be unavailable to a vast majority of patients, especially in developing countries. In this work, we present a low-cost (<200), portable (fits in an 8"x8"x4" box), non-invasive ventilator (NIV), designed to provide relief to early-stage COVID-19 patients in low-resource settings. We used a high-pressure blower fan for providing noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation. Our design supports continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) modes. A common concern of using CPAP or BiPAP for treating COVID-19 patients is the aerosolization of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We used a helmet-based solution that contains the spread of the virus. Our end-to-end solution is compact, low-cost (<400 including the helmet, viral filters, and a valve), and easy-to-use. Our NIV provides 0-20 cmH2O pressure with flow rates of 60-180 Lmin−1. We hope that our report will encourage implementations and further studies on helmet-based NIV for treating COVID-19 patients in low-resource settings.

    @article{khan2020lowcost, title = {A low-cost, helmet-based, non-invasive ventilator for COVID-19}, author = {Khan, Yasser and Fahad, Hossain Mohammad and Muin, Sifat and Gopalan, Karthik}, year = {2020}, eprint = {2005.11008}, archiveprefix = {arXiv}, primaryclass = {physics.med-ph}, thumbnail = {khan2020lowcost.png}, url = {https://arxiv.org/abs/2005.11008}, pdf = {khan2020lowcost.pdf} }

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