The threat that novel coronavirus poses to humankind has brought India, like many other countries around the world, to a standstill. PM Narendra Modi called for a total lockdown of 21 days to contain the spread of Covid-19, which has already infected 694 people and claimed 16 lives across the country. Without a cure or vaccine for the infection, the best way to contain the disease is by staying indoors. But there's another major concern, which directly affects those who tested positive for Covid-19.
When patients are tested positive for Covid-19, isolation wards are needed, but in the case of critical cases, ICU wards are imperative. The novel coronavirus affects the respiratory system, causing serious illness and difficulty in breathing. Critical patients require ventilator support, which helps them breathe and can mean the difference between life or death for those suffering from the most severe respiratory effects of the novel coronavirus.
India has a shortage of ventilators to properly face the impending threat. According to MoHFW internal data, India has a capacity of 37,618 isolation beds, 9,512 ICU beds, and 8,432 ventilators as on March 24, which will pose a serious challenge in the treatment of Covid-19 patients. As per a recent estimate, India could have anywhere between 100,000 to 1.3 million Covid-19 cases by mid-May if the infection continues to spread at the current rate.
A ray of hope
Considering the shortage of ventilators and the rising number of cases in India, a team of local doctors and engineers came up with an idea to use splitters to provide ventilator support to four patients using just one life support system. This is done as preparedness in case of a crisis. The innovative method of using a splitter on a ventilator was tested Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Srinagar.
According to IANS, SKIMS has around 40 ventilators and there are less than 100 of those in the Valley to support a population of around 70 lakh people.
Splitters were tested in SKIMS today in case of ventilator crisis. With the help of splitters one ventilator can support 4 patients (not for ideal conditions).Thanks to those who supported this innovation @pg211183, IUST Awantipura, Dr Talib Khan, @AskSheikhAadil @FaaizDijoo pic.twitter.com/CyVOaGLA9d— Mantasha (@MantashaBRashid) March 26, 2020
Speaking to International Business Times, India, Dr. Suneem Khan said the 3D-printed splitter can be used to support 4 patients without any underlying conditions. While this is not an ideal solution, but can certainly come in handy in case of a crisis.
"Idea is to divide the basal tidal volume (500 ml) of concentrated oxygen through splitters," Dr. Khan told IBTimes India.
The splitter can be attached to expiratory and inspiratory limbs of the ventilator in order to help multiple patients at once, Dr. Khan explained.
FDA's emergency approval in the US
The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the splitter, Prisma Health Officials call it VESper. This use of the splitter can be a game-changer at this time of crisis when hospitals are facing a shortage of ventilators to treat Covid-19 patients.