TEL AVIV – As countries around the world scramble to gain access to ventilators, an Israeli DIY design that can be downloaded for free on the internet is offering a stopgap solution to the shortage by providing the blueprint to build makeshift breathing machines for as little as $500.
AmboVent, whose inventors come from Israel’s military, medical and hitech sectors, was downloaded 19,000 times within an hour of being uploaded.
Three weeks later, some 300 teams around the world are working towards prototypes.
“We are in a race,” said Eitan Eliram, an innovation consultant spearheading the initiative alongside Yuval Eran, a paramedic for the Magen David Adom Israeli emergency medical service. “Corona taught us something: Let’s move fast.”
The device uses easy to find components such as windshield wipers while other parts are able to be 3D printed straight from the design itself. Standard ventilators can cost 100 times the price so AmbuVent’s solution can be a boon for poorer regions.
“This can ventilate millions in Africa when no other machine is around,” Eliram was quoted by the Times of Israel as saying. “In Africa, they haven’t fully woken up to the coronavirus and there are hardly any ventilators, so this can make a huge difference.”
World Health Organization statistics show that there are only 2,000 ventilators in the whole of Africa – less than the amount in Israel. Some African countries don’t have any. A report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa said the continent, which is a few weeks behind Europe in regards to the spread of the pandemic, will likely be dealing with 122 million infections.
AmboVent is also producing 20 prototypes to send to other countries on a limited budget of $200,000. The team is also launching a crowdfunding campaign.
“The situation with ventilators is dire,” Eliram said. “Even with some of the ventilators you can get, you can’t get the valves anymore, so people are calling and saying we want this machine that isn’t dependent on sourcing supplies after it is made.”
AmboVent uses a robotic arm to operate a bag-valve mask, like the kind used in ambulances, that connects to the patient through an intubation tube.
“It’s a second-choice compassion device,” Eliram said. “This is your plan B in the hospital, once you’ve exhausted all your $40,000 machines.”