Many patients with the respiratory disease COVID-19 need mechanical ventilation to give them a chance at recovering. Modern respiratory ventilators are complex machines and difficult to produce and serve one patient. What is required is a simple mechanical ventilator that is robust and reliable and serves many patients. Frankly, looking at pictures of modern respiratory ventilators I shudder at the thought that the exhaled air from the patient is vented into the ward; it should be extracted, sterilized and vented to the outside to reduce contamination.

I am an electrical engineer by training and not a medical professional; however I can imagine the minimum functional requirements of a mechanical ventilator for multiple patients as requiring the following:

  1. Adjustable breathing rate for each patient.
  2. Adjustable ventilation pressure regulator for each patient.
  3. Common or individual oxygen enrichment.
  4. Dual common over pressurized air supply manifold. This allows for the periodic sterilization. (Pointed out by Jeff in the fist comment below.)
  5. Common under pressurized extraction manifold which is vented out of the room, preferable through a sterilization system.
  6. The system needs to be battery backed and a certain amount of dual redundancy for the common parts should be provided.

My sketching skills are limited, but the basic idea should be conveyed. The manifolds could be constructed from standard PVC piping, and be shipped in standard lengths which then can be extended at  the to-be-erected make-shift hospitals.

I am sure that I have missed something; hence I invite you to pass this on to someone with more knowledge, or leave comment below or in the forum. Better still would be if a research/manufacturing group could take up this idea and challenge.

Wishing you all good health,