The COVID-19 pandemic puts our health care system under huge strain worldwide.
The COVID-19 outbreak is presenting unprecedented challenges to our health care system. The availability of precious medical resources will be limited because of the numbers of patients and the severity of their illness.
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Some of the most important resources include mechanical ventilators. Recent studies show that up to 76% of patients admitted to ICU have been requiring intubation and invasive mechanical ventilation (1), many patients requiring about two weeks of ventilation support. Shortage in ventilator capacity are announced in many countries. For example, the New-York State was recently asking for 30,000 more ventilators (2), and 880,000 ventilators are required world-wide (3). Life and death decisions have already been taken in different countries due to lack of ventilators.
Many open-access initiatives have emerged to respond to respond to the demand.
In response to this, many (90+) open-source projects have emerged worldwide to quickly prototype and develop ventilators (4), involving complex development and heavy certification procedures. The MultiVentY initiative, a voluntary, non-profit and open-source project provide a simple, low-cost, reliable and reusable splitter to connect multiple patients to a single ventilator. The splitters are mass-produced in Belgium and available right now to be shipped abroad. A strong collaboration with an international taskforce studying multiventilation allows to share knowledge and developments with the most aware teams in the field.
Regarding the current situation in Belgium and Europe, our priority is currently to look at how to support other countries and other demands as well, given the acuteness of the pandemic. Open-access to the design files allow any equipped company to manufacture its own splitters for local supply.