Covid-19 is an inordinate medical emergency and is almost leading to the crumbling down of the health infrastructure with few developed states like Italy, Spain, France and the United States. However, doctors and other professionals associated with the health ecosystem are
trying their level best to bring the normalcy back. For management of this pandemic, certain hospital equipment is required. Particularly, equipment like the ventilators, oxygen paraphernalia for giving oxygen to the sick individuals and few others are required by hospitals in ‘adequate’ numbers. Unfortunately, owing to the expanse of the threat, it is just not possible to prejudge about how many patients would be there at any given point in time and that is why the word ‘adequate’ is fast losing its relevance. Under such circumstances there is a need to be innovative towards the management of the resources.
Responding to the need, globally various innovators are found coming forward to offer quick solutions. At present, the ventilators for patients are in short supply. The agencies manufacturing them have already increased their productions and few new agencies are making efforts to manufacture them. A vacuum cleaner company has designed a new ventilator in just 10 days. Smaller innovations which have started helping to overcome the existing shortages include the new attachments made, which are allowing the sharing of the ventilator amongst two to four patients. An innovative snorkelling mask designed for a fun day at the beach was found to be used by Italian doctors to handle the emergency.
Also, there has been a realisation that in order to bridge the gap between an oxygen mask and full ventilation, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device could be put in use. Engineers in the UK have been able to quickly make some improvements to the design of an existing unit and produce CPAP. It is expected to go for the mass production shortly. The doctors of the microbiology department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have swiftly found a way to make the hand sanitizers and plastic face shields themselves to cater for the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the hospital. Surgical Masks could be reused after the process of sterilization and medical staff has started doing so.
The development of a vaccine for the coronavirus (including the clinical trials) is expected to take months. In the meantime, doctors are known to be trying with some existing available medicines for curing the patients. Particularly, they are found modifying the treatments given in the past for the diseases like malaria and swine-flu. However, this has been done with a lot of caution. A universal solution is yet to emerge in this regard.
All in all, there is an understanding about the need to quickly think ‘out of the box’ for improvising on some of the existing solutions and finding new solutions to fight with this unprecedented coronavirus threat
Author: Dr Ajey Lele
(The author is a Senior Fellow at MP-IDSA, New Delhi, the views are personal)