A couple of Indian origin has developed a low-cost portable emergency ventilator in the United States to help doctors in India and other developing countries treat coronavirus patients, PTI reported on Tuesday.

The Open-AirVentGT has been developed to address acute respiratory distress syndrome, a common health complication among coronavirus patients, which causes their lungs to stiffen. Devesh Ranjan, a professor and associate chair in the Georgia Tech’s George W Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and Kumuda Ranjan, a doctor in Atlanta, developed the emergency ventilator from concept to prototype in three weeks.

Developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the ventilator uses electronic sensors and computer control to manage key clinical parameters such as respiration rate, tidal volume, inspiration and expiration ratio, and pressure on the lungs. Tidal volume is the amount of air moved into and out of the lungs during each cycle.

“If you can do a manufacturing of scale, it can be produced in less than $100 (roughly Rs 7,500),” Ranjan said. According to him, a ventilator of this type in the United States costs $10,000 (around Rs 7.5 lakh) on an average. However, the ventilator is different from the ones used in an intensive care unit, which Ranjan said is “more sophisticated” and expensive.

“The whole goal of this project was to make a low-cost makeshift ventilator that gives controls to the physician,” Dr Kumuda said, noting that there is going to be a global shortage of ventilators, given the massive spread of coronavirus cases. More than 54.94 lakh cases of Covid-19 have been reported worldwide, as well as at least 3,46,218 deaths, according to a tracker by the Johns Hopkins University.

Ranjan said the ventilator has been developed keeping in mind the requirements of countries such as India and those in Africa, in order to make healthcare affordable and accessible to people. “The idea was to develop a lost-cost ventilator, which can be manufactured easily using the already available supply chain in India,” he added. “The impact of this could be significant...Having equipment that can be produced quickly with the kind of control system doctors need, could really help address the worldwide impact of this virus.”

The prototype is being developed into a real product by Singapore-based Renew Group. “We have built a wide collaborative network with a single focus of getting more ventilators into the most disadvantaged health systems in the world in order to help doctors and patients dealing with COVID-19,” company head Ravi Sajwan said.

The company said addressing the critical shortage of low-cost, mechanical ventilators is a key focus of Renew Group. It added that it was collaborating with a group of companies and affiliates who are committed to fast-track the manufacture and distribution of Open-AirVentGT to hospitals and remote facilities in underprivileged countries including India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.