How hard is it to quickly develop an affordable ventilator for COVID-19?

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Mar 18, 2020

A timely guest post from Krista Donaldson, CEO of D-Rev. 

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We’ve been getting a lot of queries at D-Rev about ventilators, especially affordable ventilators to support hospitals in the U.S. and around the world. Hospitals are facing an onslaught or potential onslaught of patients suffering from respiratory distress related to COVID-19.

The short answer is that there isn’t a quick fix to the potential ventilator shortage. Adding significant capacity will be part of a second wave solution. For those of you who have noticed the shortage of groceries at the store, you can appreciate how it is difficult to significantly ramp up distribution, supply chains, and manufacturing for a regulated medical device -- especially during a pandemic where many are under ‘shelter in place’ orders. DIY, (do it yourself) ventilators, made out of of-the-shelf parts, may be technically feasible but are not recommended by medical professionals. Ventilators are critical care devices and a substandard one can put a patient at greater risk.

That said, some of you can help now - and to better prepare us for when the next global pandemic hits. Please consider OneBreath, a social enterprise developing an affordable ventilator suitable for pandemics. In recent years OneBreath has shifted from pandemics to the needs of hospitals in low-resource markets - in part, ironically, because of lack of interest by the U.S. government. OneBreath has a late stage product and offers a promising solution for broad-scale affordable ventilators. They, however, need two things. If you can help with either please email OneBreath at info@onebreathventilators.com:

  1. If you know someone senior at the U.S. FDA (Food & Drug Administration) or HHS (Health & Human Services), and can make an introduction. OneBreath needs input from and collaboration with these agencies. Accelerated regulatory clearance could take 4-5 months off time to market.
  2. Funding. OneBreath can quickly redirect development to a pandemic-specific product. If you are (or know) a philanthropist or serious social sector investor, please get in touch or share this post. (I add ‘serious’ because - unfortunately this week - I’ve been fielding calls from people looking to make a quick buck by leveraging D-Rev’s network during the pandemic.)

Lastly, thank you for all the queries - we appreciate all the thoughtful and smart people trying to figure out solutions to help others. Combining resources allows innovators like OneBreath, D-Rev, and others to get needed medical devices to market faster to save lives.

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