The Covid 19 disease caused by the Coronavirus has hit the world by storm. What started in Wuhan China as a normal Respiratory disease has spread throughout the world causing fear, panic and lots of deaths. This spread has brought the world to a standstill! In the wake of this highly infectious disease so many terms have become very common as the world health experts and governments try to mitigate this scourge. One of the most mentioned equipment in trying to alleviate the effects of the pandemic is the ventilator.
What is a ventilator?
In very simple terms a ventilator is a machine that takes over a human’s breathing process when a disease cripples the lungs making them not function as designed. Therefore, the ventilator assumes the role of the lungs thus giving the body time to battle off the infection and recover.
How do ventilators work?
Why are ventilators key in the fight against coronavirus?
As much as some 80% of people with the virus (Corona) recover without needing medical-hospital- treatment, one out of every six patients becomes critically ill developing difficulties in breathing( According to WHO)
In such severe cases, the lungs get damaged by the virus prompting the body’s immune system to expand the blood vessels, increasing the entry of the immune cells. This poses a great danger of the fluid getting into the lungs making the patient’s breathing difficult. When the breathing is hampered, oxygen levels drop. This is when the ventilator comes in handy to push air with high oxygen concentration into the lungs. To ensure that the air getting pushed into the patient’s lungs is of the same body temperature as that of the patient’s, the ventilator has a humidifier that heats and moisturizes the medical air. So in essence, the ventilator regulates the breathing of the patients until they recover.
Availability and cost of ventilators.
Unfortunately, these ventilators are not readily available in the wake of this virus. For instance, according to Aljazeera.com, in the United States, which has tested and confirmed the most cases in the globe, the Society of Critical Care Medicine has projected that 960,000 Coronavirus patients may be put on ventilators as they go through the treatment process. However, the US has approximately 200,000 ventilators some of which are old fashioned and thus may not be so helpful to the critically ill. The situation may be worse in nations with weak health care systems. A case in point is an African nation- Mali- that has only 56 machines against a population of 19 million!
It becomes clear that one of the biggest bottlenecks facing the medical caregivers around the globe amid the Covid 19 pandemic is attempting to save lives that require critical care on a background of limited medical infrastructure. It is from this point of reference that the globe’s biggest manufacturer of ventilators, the Swiss-based Hamilton Medical AG, purposes to increase production numbers to 21,000 this year, up from 15,000 in 2019.
What does the future hold for the so-called developing countries if this covid19 continues to spread?