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Why in news?

A team of engineering students from IIT Bombay and other institutes have come up with a low-cost ventilator using locally available materials.

3-D printing and laser-cutting technologies also were instrumental in the success of the prototype.

Why are Ventilators important right now?

  • Among those getting infected by COVID-19, around 80% will experience only mild illness, around 15% will need oxygen support and the remaining 5% who get critical or severe will need ventilators.
  • Ventilators are thus an important component of the medical infrastructure required for treating infected patients, providing critical breathing support to those falling critically ill.

What is a ventilator and what does it do?

  • Simply put, a ventilator takes over the body’s breathing process when disease has caused the lungs to fail. This gives the patient time to fight off the infection and recover.
  • A ventilator is used to push air, with increased levels of oxygen, into the lungs.
  • The ventilator also has a humidifier, which adds heat and moisture to the air supply so it matches the patient’s body temperature.
  • Patients are given medication to relax the respiratory muscles so their breathing can be fully regulated by the machine.
  • People with milder symptoms may be given ventilation using facemasks, nasal masks or mouthpieces which allow air or an oxygen mixture to be pushed into the lungs.
  • This is known as “non-invasive” ventilation, as no internal tubes are required.
  • Another form of ventilation – continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP – keeps a patient’s airways continuously open,
March 2024