Health officials in Ireland are set to review a prototype 3D-printed ventilator next week created by an open-source hardware project started to address shortages driven by the spread of coronavirus.
“We have six prototypes that are ready to be manufactured and tested with validation by the [Health Service Executive] likely from next week,” Colin Keogh, a 3D printing expert at University College Dublin and an early member of the Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies project, told The Irish Times.
While Ireland at the moment is not facing a shortage of ventilators, which are frequently needed to treat COVID-19 cases, getting approval from the country’s regulatory body could lead to deployment elsewhere down the road.
“Developed countries may be able to cope with COVID-19, but emerging nations may find it that much harder to overcome,” Keogh said. “So our overarching goal is to develop a functional medical device that will be certified for use in extreme emergencies.”
Other countries are facing ventilator shortages already. In Italy, 3D printing has been used to cheaply produce an otherwise expensive part of the lifesaving systems.
Hospitals in the United States have about 162,000 ventilators in addition to another 12,700 in a reserve of emergency medical supplies overseen by the federal government, according to The New York Times.
The American Hospital Association has estimated that 960,000 people will need ventilators over the course of the pandemic.