Polish scientists design remote-controlled ventilator to fight COVID-19


WARSAW (Reuters) – A team of Polish scientists has designed a remote-controlled ventilator they hope will allow doctors to help critically ill patients breathe, but from a distance, in a bid to make medical personnel safer during the coronavirus pandemic.

If the experimental “RespiSave” ventilator can be shown to work safely on humans, doctors can observe patients’ vitals through an application, monitoring their condition and adjusting the machine’s settings from anywhere in the hospital, the designers of the project told Reuters.

Doctors would be notified if the ventilator gets disconnected or the patient’s condition changes drastically.

Respiratory failure requiring support with a mechanical ventilator is common in patients with severe COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The remote-control feature means the medical personnel can be in less frequent contact with these patients, said Lukasz Szarpak, a medical adviser on the project.

Health care workers caring for critically ill patients are at particular risk of coronavirus infection, in some cases due to a lack of adequate personal protective equipment.

The designers, who are among the first to come up with such a device, said they expect use of medical telemetry to expand, especially after the medical crisis associated with the coronavirus.

Leszek Kowalik, the director of the project, said RespiSave will be much less expensive than a typical ventilator, although he did not specify the price of the device.

Many hospitals around the world faced a shortage of ventilators as the coronavirus outbreak spread.

While the technology is still being tested, Szarpak and Kowalik said they hoped it would be available in Poland within the next few months and eventually on a wider global market.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Kacper Pempel; Editing by Nancy Lapid and Mike Collett-White