A list projects to make emergency ventilators in response to COVID-19, focusing on free-libre open source
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COVID-19 Ventilator Projects and Resources and FAQ
An analyzed list of projects to make emergency ventilators in response to COVID-19, focusing on free-libre open source.
PLEASE make pull requests or submit issues too add any project missing from this list. The comments are entirely my own (possibly not well-informed) opinions and are meant to be helpful to those looking for quick information, not to disparage any project.
Evaluation of Known Projects
This image was update March 28th. This data may be more easily and currently viewed as a spreadsheet. Please send me point-of-contact information for each project via an issue, and I will put it in this (very public) spreadsheet.
We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this effort. In the interest of transparency and information for the community, we have analyzed all projects we are aware of in terms of criteria we believe are essential to successfully deploying an open-source ventilator during the COVID-19 pandemic. These seven attributes are:
- Community Support
- Functionally Tested
- Reliability Tested
- COVID-19 Suitability
- Clinician Friendly
Our goal is not to rank projects, but to shed light on the state of readiness of these projects, and perhaps identify things that must be addressed before they can be deployable. Although in times of crises one may compromise, ventilators are life-critical, last-resort devices that may do more harm than good if they do not meet stringent requirements. We have largely followed the guidelines of the Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System criteria set out by the UK.
It is our hope that this will always be out-of-date. That is, we hope projects move so fast that cannot keep up with updating their progress. We certainly intend no slight to any project. If you believe a project has made progress in category, is misevaluated, or a new project should be added, please open an issue.
I believe these are the three most essential documents to read first:
A Super-simple Guide to Mechanical Ventilation For Open Source Engineers Designing Ventilators for the COVID-19 Pandemic – This was written by me (Robert L. Read). It’s my best attempt at an introduction.
Ventilator Supply Mitigation Strategies: Letter to Health Care Providers (Explains reuse and adaptations of exisiting devices.)
Informal notes from a pulmonologist speaking with Johnny Lee are also highly relevant.
Most Buildable Projects
These three projects are, in our humble opinion, the closest to being actually buildable by a third party. We do not believe they are ready to built or manufactured in quantity, and have only had the lightest of testing. Furthermore, the COVID-19 disease requires critical care in an ICU; these designs may be excellent for patients with other diseases, such as acute trauma. However, some medical professionals have asserted that more features are needed in the case of ARDS, a common complication of COVID-19, and patients may requires ventilation for many days. These designs are in a poor state of readiness for multi-day treatment, as far as can be determined.
Beatmungsgerät [Respirator] - German language site, but appears to be in best state of openness, build reproducibility, monitoring and alarming. Reliability testing uncertain.
Probably best state of buildability at the the time of this writing. The link above is to the repo. The inventor, Johnny Lee, is actively improving the system as of March 21st, and has called for assistance. It has been pressure-tested. It has a wiki.
I recommend the community of makers and volunteers for open-source ventilator design offer Johnny Lee their full assistance.
This project is well-documented. It is not clear that it has an active team working on it. The document above is dated April 19, 2019, and was almost certainly presented at the OEDK for 2019 at the end of the school year, possibly by graduating Seniors. It has been pressure-tested. At present it states it only works for 6 hours without human intervention. It does not appear to have repository.
This project was active as of March 16th, 2020. It has a repo of design documents. As of March 16th it has limited control capability and has not been pressure tested.
Fully open (GPL). Aims to adopt bag valve masks, based on designs (not open) from Rice and MIT. Author (Trevor Smale) responded to email. Highly organized, but not buildable at the time of this writing.
Current prototype is pneumatic. 3D printed parts complete, but I can’t find complete assembly instructions. They are working on a second electric prototype.
Projects Not Yet Buildable (March 21st, 2020)
AmboVent A well-tested design by a large team from the Israeli Air Force. Definitely one to watch. They plan to release open-source plans on April 2nd, if this happens it may be a game-changing event.
MIT E-Vent – This looks like one of the most advance projects. Sadly it is somewhat closed at present, they do not actually offer designs, though they say they will.
A well-developed device reported on by Canadian Broadcasting Company. Creator (Mr. John Strupat) may open source design soon. Note that this has a test-lung as part of the system, a very simple and important feature reproducible elsewhere even without this design. Nature of internale design not visible
Online funding for development of an Open Source Ventilator. They provide a Google Docs project overview. According to the photo provided it is a CPAP blower type. Impressive document.
Reports on Projects with No Designs
Functioning Abmu-bag based model. Not obviously open with no published design, but possibly easy to copy.
From 2007. Uses a relatively old and expensive programmable logic controller, but a great starting place. Possibly well tested.
An update of the previous project. No known open-source repo at present.
Nice video, possibly nice control, no obvious link to replicatable design documents.
Some work from MIT? Have not had time to evaluate.
Working prototype, currently active.
Unclear if the design is published. Good data collection.
Currently active. I found it interesting. They are using ‘maker’ hardware (ie. Arduino MEGA, TB6600 driver, NEMA17 or NEMA23)
VentilatorPAL Pre-orderable for &euro 370. Claims will be open sourced March 29th. Has repo, but files in odd format (to me).
Oxford new report Yet another news report of a project. No information that it is open.
OpenBreath Italy Sadly not an open design; claims good progress but hard to tell.
OpenVentilator – Seems very well developed on first glance. Uses very accessible parts. With more testing could be successful.
YACoVV - Yet Another (SARS-)CoV(-2)Ventilator Focuses on the pressure regulating part with an unconventional but very effective solution
Cuirass/Negative Pressure/Iron Lung base
A valuable and educational video, open in spirit. (Note: this does not provide positive pressure, or the direct inclusion of oxygen. This would be a valuable part of a spectrum of solutions in a catastrophic situation.)
My own attempt to build a test apparatus that meaasures clinical suitability as well as reliability. Project is just beginning.
More test projects are needed! If you know of a test project, please make a pull request or enter an issue.
Communities working on Open-Source Ventilators
An associated with NECSI, the New England Complex Systems Institute, effort with over 3000 volunteers in its Slack team, many of them medical professionals. Channels for Ventilator work are prefixed “#response-ventilators”.
HelpfulEngineering has over 12,000 volunteers in its Slack team.
1M Ventilators Note: These two projects have almost the same name, but are different, I think.
Global Ventilator & PPE DIY Collaboration An international group using WhatsApp for communication. May have projects soon.
The Ventilator Project Has a gofundme.
Challenges and Calls for Papers
HardwareX: Special Issue on Open-Source COVID19 Medical Hardware (Submission deadline June 1st, 2020)
Opens Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies An excellent resources for supplies in general (focues more on PPE than ventilators)
Give a Breath - Challenge Appears to be both a challenge and a community. Opened applications March 25th, judging for second phase April 3rd. Prizes of 1 million euros.
This important document suggests that in the case of a severe epidemic, the US will bottleneck on have enough people trained on ventilators (but also not have enough ventilators, or beds.)
Note: This is an excellent read and great source of information. However, we have had an MD and respiratory therapist state that it should be taken with some skepticism as an actual minimum set of requirements, asserting that simpler designs with fewer features may also be extremely valuable in a resource-starved shortfall.
This is a very important study in part because it allows us to predict ventilator need (in terms of days) for patients.
University of Florida, mostly specifications right now, but amoung the best set of quality specifications available:
Overall Design Philosophy Open source for use worldwide and contributions from others worldwide (https://github.com/CSSALTlab/Open_Source_Ventilator.git)
A great overall working document from the people at HelpfulEngineering.
A specific but valuable interactive model of hospital admissions
Massive collection of resources, mostly academic papers AFAIK
A useful resource for programmers as a model; data seems insufficient to accurately model COVID-19 at present although it has a preset for it.
This document sadly outlines how to triage ventilators when you don’t have enough. It underscores the importance of this project.
PUMANI bubbleCPAP (for infants, commercial, but may be a useful low-cost reference point)
Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand – This is the famous Imperial College model that instigated social distancing in the UK and US. Although not focused on ventilators, it did focus on ICU beds, a closely related issue.
Mechanical Ventilators in US Acute Care Hospitals A valuable resource, but behind a paywall, this is the Google Scholar Citation.
Frontier Tech 4 COVID Action: 10 things we’ve learnt about ventilators for emerging markets Avaluable essay, topical as of March 27th.
Open Hardware COVID19 A news article talking about open hardware proejcts beyond ventilators but medically interesting.
Basic Educational Resources
Five videos on using Mechanical Ventilators:
OpenSourceCoronavirusProjects – a large list of resources not specific to ventilators
Q: What is a test lung?
A: A test lung is a bag between two pieces of plastic which approximates the resistance to inflation of a human lung. They cost about $200. They are used for testing ventilators.
Q: What is barotrauma?
A: Ventilator Induced Barotrauma is dangerous and common, and why you can’t just use an untested ventilator on a human being. It is caused by too much or too little pressure, too much air flow speed, or even too much volume at low pressures.
Q: What is a pneumatic ventilator?
A: A pneumatic ventilator is powered primarily by pressurized air, rather than electronics.