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Georgia Tech develops new low-tech ventilator

Researchers hope to produce hundreds of them for COVID-19 patients before pandemic peaks

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech has helped to develop a low-cost ventilator. Researchers hope they will be able to get them into hospitals around the world quickly.  

The Georgia Tech researchers said they were able to partner with researchers from a university in England in order to develop the ventilator in 17 days. 

The idea is to place cheap, low-tech emergency ventilators into hospitals as a stop-gap measure for a patients who need fully-equipped high-tech ventilators, but can’t get to one. 

"We’ve really designed them for mechanical simplicity," said Dr. Shannon Yee, an associate professor from Georgia Tech and a researcher behind the project. "They do not have all the features that a high-end ventilator has."

The low-cost ventilator was designed at England's Cranfield University and built by Georgia Tech.  

The ventilator uses sheet metal stock and inexpensive plastic that’s widely available.  

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia: Confirmed cases climb to 7,314 with 229 deaths

In the past few days, the developers have shared prototypes with Atlanta area hospitals like Emory, Children's Healthcare and Grady Memorial – which are among the hospitals worldwide bracing for ventilator shortages in the coming weeks.

At its most severe, COVID-19 is a disease that attacks the lungs, causing difficulty breathing.  

A ventilator uses a tube that enters the windpipe and takes control of respiration.  

In the most severe cases, ventilators can save lives – when they are available.  

The Tech-Cranfield ventilator can assist the breathing of two patients at once, if needed.  Yee says the project helps tilt the odds in favor of the patient.

"We kept it very simple, very analog, very old school to just get out there quickly," Yee said. "This design is so mechanically simple, we can easily get it up to several hundred per day with a single manufacturer."

The researchers are looking for manufacturers – as well as emergency FDA approval -- to mass-produce the emergency ventilators.  

Dr. Yee says they could be readily available by the time the coronavirus pandemic peaks in north Georgia before the end of April.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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