South Africa Creates Its Own Ventilators to Fight COVID-19

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The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with a number of local partners – has completed work on a local ventilator to be rolled out nationwide to patients showing respiratory distress in the early phase of COVID-19 infection.

The first batch of ventilators will be provided to state hospitals around the country that are currently experiencing pressure due to the unavailability of equipment to deal with the pandemic.

The CSIR solution is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device that uses an innovative design to provide a mild level of oxygenated air pressure to keep the airways open and, thus, assist with breathing.

The units are non-invasive and fill the need for readily available breathing apparatus, deployed and applied easily – even outside of hospitals if needs be – for intervention in cases where patients are at an early, not-intensive stage of respiratory distress caused by the Coronavirus, said CSIR.

Therefore, the device can be used in both high-tech clinical environments, as well as temporary settings, such as field hospitals and quarantine facilities that have been established across the country to handle rising COVID-19 cases.

Under the project name, ‘CSIR L.I.F.E.’ (Lung Inspiratory Flow Enabler), the system uses standard, hospital-grade oxygen supply, and features easy-to-use, on-device flow gages to adjust Fraction of Inspired Oxygen in steps of 10% oxygenation.

Siemens provided the necessary software support for the product lifecycle management, as well as software to facilitate rapid production scaling. This included components for systems engineering processes, computer-aided design tools, manufacturing execution tools, as well as quality management solutions that would ensure compliance with health product regulations for certification.

Using a digital product lifecycle design methodology also ensures that the product can be manufactured in multiple factories in the industry and in large volumes.

“This way, we remain true to the role of the CSIR – which is to perform research and development (R&D) that is cutting edge, involves local industry in their niche areas, and ensures that together we address issues that are of national importance,” Martin Sanne, Executive Manager of CSIR Future Production: Manufacturing, explains.

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