In mid-March of 2020, COVID-19 patients flooded into hospitals. The severity of the outbreak became apparent as the number of cases climbed upwards at an alarming rate. Medical supplies were dwindling, and early reports out of New York and Seattle indicated a critical ICU bed shortage, with a ventilator shortage looming on the horizon. The United States healthcare system was not prepared for the scope of this public health crisis. The world was not ready for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tyler Mantel, a robotics entrepreneur at MassRobotics in Boston, recognized that there was something he could do in the midst of the crisis. He paused what he was working on and founded The Ventilator Project to begin adressing the immediate ventilator shortage.
Ventilators are mechanical breathing machines. They oxygenate the blood when a patient is unable to breathe for themselves, a crucial lifesaving tool for the most critical cases of respiratory distress. In one of the first large-scale studies from Wuhan, the New England Journal of Medicine recorded that about 2.3% of COVID-19 patients need a ventilator to stay alive.
A March report from the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins revealed that there were about 160,000 ventilators available for patient care, yet estimates from the Imperial College London predicted that if the COVID-19 trajectory continues, demand for ventilators in the US would be 30 times current supply. Even as mitigation efforts start to slow the spread of the virus, demand is likely to grow above eight times current supply.
Mantel recruited a team of more than 15 engineers to rapidly prototype a low-cost ventilator for global distribution. Since then, TVP has grown to encompass over 300 volunteers serving a wide range of functions across deparments.
“We have certain skills that some people don’t have. As a team, we can help solve this ventilator shortage rapidly before things get out of hand,” says Mantel. “There are two key problems that we really need to solve: affordable ventilator production and fast ventilator distribution.”
TVP is developing a ventilator to meet the specific needs of a coronavirus patient; a stripped down version of what major companies generally produce. This will significantly reduce the cost of the final product.
After TVP’s ventilator is developed and approved by the FDA (under the Emergency Approval Process), the company will begin work with strategic partners to manufacture and distribute our devices efficiently.
Major manufacturers are struggling to build enough ventilators. Hospitals are struggling to put together enough capital to buy the ventilators they need. “We don’t have a year to wait for big companies to make another 100,000-300,000 ventilators,” says Mantel. “People need them yesterday.”
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· The Ventilator Project, Inc, and all the volunteers, associated faculty, students, doctors, and researchers make no guarantees, representations, or warranties, explicit or implied, with respect to the research or design, or the material on this website.
· No material on this site is intended to provide medical or other professional advice. All designs are intended for investigational use only.
· The Ventilator Project, Inc. is working to submit a specific a ventilator prototype “Airia” to the United States for review under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authority.
· Although no determination has been made with respect to this design, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has declared liability immunity for medical countermeasures against COVID-19.