Graphic shows how ventilators work.
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HEALTH

How ventilators work

By Jordi Bou

March 31, 2020 - Inventors, academics, carmakers and aerospace firms are rushing to build hundreds of thousands of ventilators to help save the lives of people with Coronavirus-related breathing difficulties.

For patients with the worst effects of the infection, a ventilator offers the best chance of survival.

A mechanical ventilator unit pushes air into a patient’s lungs, replicating the normal breathing when disease causes the lungs to fail.

Big names of industry such as General Motors, Airbus, McLaren and Dyson have offered their engineering expertise or factory lines, which in many cases have slowed or halted because of the pandemic.

University College London engineers have worked with clinicians at UCLH and Mercedes Formula One to build what is known as the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device. Mercedes F1 is offering to build up to 1,000 CPAP machines per day.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 80% of people with Covid-19 recover without needing hospital treatment.

But one person in six becomes seriously ill and can develop breathing difficulties. In these severe cases, the virus causes damage to the lungs.

PUBLISHED: 31/03/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: UCL
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