Ventilators a key weapon in fight against coronavirus

Ventilators can be key to the treatment of patients suffering with coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organisation, one in six Covid-19 patients becomes seriously ill and can develop breathing difficulties.

Many people will not need to be treated in hospital.

The virus causes damage to the lungs in severe cases, making it harder for the patient to breathe and fluid may enter the lungs.

The devices take over a patient’s breathing function while they are sedated, pushing air into the lungs.

It gives them time to fight the infection and recover.

The WHO states that ventilators are made up of a flexible breathing circuit, a control system, monitors, and alarms.

The gas is delivered using a double-limb breathing circuit.

The gas may be heated or humidified using appropriate devices, according to the WHO.

Intensive care ventilators are usually connected to a wall gas supply.

Most ventilators are microprocessor-controlled and regulate matters such as pressure and volume.


People with milder symptoms may be given ventilation using face masks, nasal masks or mouthpieces which allow pressurised air or mixtures of gases to be pushed into the lungs, the BBC reports.

Fears have been raised about whether the NHS will have enough ventilators during the peak of the coronavirus crisis, given that some patients fear they will not receive the critical care they need.

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said that he has confidence in equipment supplies.

In response to these fears, he told a Downing Street press conference earlier this week: “I can tell you I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that kind of scenario at the moment.

“We will watch it extremely closely and we will make decisions as we need to on a day-by-day basis.”

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents healthcare trusts, stated earlier this week that it was clear ventilator numbers needed to “significantly increase”.

A leading group of manufacturers, The Ventilator Challenge UK consortium, announced on Thursday that they are targeting production of 1,500 ventilators a week by May.

Several other existing manufacturers are also scaling up their own production of ventilators to meet the demand.