AT firms urged to join quest for DIY ventilator

25 March 2020

Disability campaigner Philip Connolly is urging AT companies with engineering skills to investigate whether they can make badly needed ventilators.

Connolly points out that most people who have died from Covid-19 are disabled because they have an underlying illness.

“There is a big shortage of ventilators and more must be done to produce them because all the people who have died so far have been disabled,” he says. The UK is estimated to need an extra 20,000 ventilators.

Frontiers Technology Hub, which works with the Department for International Development has launched a competition for a ventilator that can be quickly manufactured using existing, proven technology that can be  adapted to be built in the UK.

The winning technology, which will be announced today (Wednesday March 25) will be adapted for manufacture and use in the UK through UCL’s Institute for Healthcare Engineering with GDI Hub. Four Formula 1 car racing teams have offered to make the ventilator.

However, designs for DIY ventilators are available online.  Johnny Chung Lee, a Google researcher who has developed other hardware-oriented projects, has published plans for a ventilator on GitHub.

One technician in Australia used a 3D printer to produce ventilator spares that were in short supply.

However, fears have been raised that using non-approved devices may present significant safety risks to a patient.

David Martin, head of Remap, a network of volunteer engineers who adapt and design assistive devices, said: “We will certainly look at this it is within the scope of our membership to tackle something like this.”

For further information contact Connolly at philipjconnolly@hotmail.co.uk .