Prof. B.S. Murty, Director of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has asked the Government of India to consider adopting a ‘big valve mask’. These small devices can be used as an alternative to meet any surge in demand for ventilators, both in India and other countries, to treat COVID-19 patients.
‘Big valve masks’ are inexpensive, easy to produce and portable – used to deliver breathing support in emergencies – which therefore has every quality that is required in the current pandemic crisis.
Often called by the proprietary name of ‘Ambu Bag’, these devices are used for resuscitation in emergencies.
Around one-third among the 15 percent of the patients confirmed positive for COVID-19, would have a greater chance to develop respiratory difficulties for which ventilators for assisted breathing will become necessary.
Mr. Murthy stated that these Big valve masks are not suitable for continuous use as a ventilator as they are currently hand-powered. Hence, he suggested that developing similar devices that are easy to design and be operated by an electrical source, which could be a car battery, apart from the conventional power supply can better equip the government. Further, this portable device can then be implemented in villages and other areas without a power supply and be inexpensive enough to manufacture in bulk.
Mr. Murthy also stated that the idea of ‘Big valve masks’ is not new.
Since past few weeks, many countries are building their own devices with the idea of manufacturing low-cost ventilators. They have started competitions where the winning design would be declared open-source, which are not patented and can be given free for anyone to adopt. Numerous designs have become available for 3-D printing and can be manufactured on a small scale on a 3-D printer.