I am 41 years old and I have lived through some strange times. Living through Operation Desert Storm, 9/11 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers six months prior to the birth of my older daughter are all events that could not have prepared me for the COVID-19 Pandemic that all of us are living through. As bleak as things may appear right now, I know that we will all live to see another day and that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger. Over the last two weeks, people such as Physicians, Nurses, Grocery Store Cashiers, Janitors, Virologists, Delivery Drivers, Mechanical Engineers and Police Officers have worked night and day to protect us and our families. We have also seen some of the world’s leading Public Health Institutions work closely with Fortune 500 corporations to repurpose themselves and come up with out of the box solutions to extremely urgent problems. One of the best examples of this collaboration has been to address the world’s shortage of mechanical ventilators.
Ventilators For Dummies:
Until a couple of weeks ago, I was a complete novice when it came to ventilators. Unless you are an Anesthetist, an ICU Nurse or a Mechanical Engineer with Getinge, Drägerwerk AG or GE Healthcare, you probably don’t have a great deal of experience with ventilators. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that makes breathing difficult for some people, particularly elderly people with many pre-existing conditions. The ventilator takes over the job of your lungs when breathing becomes too difficult to do, giving the lungs time to recover so that they don’t fail.
In very serious cases of COVID-19, the SARS CoV-2 virus damages the lungs. The immune system rapidly gathers intelligence related to the situation and blood vessels expand thus allowing more immune cells to enter. As a result, fluid enters the lungs making it very difficult to breathe leading to a decrease in oxygen levels throughout the body. When this happens, a sophisticated medical device known as a mechanical ventilator is needed to take over the job of the lungs (Figure 1.1).
The ventilator pushes air with increased levels of oxygen into the lungs. The ventilator is also equipped with a humidifier to modify this air using heat and moisture to match the body temperature of the patient. This process is invasive and requires intubation, the placement of an endotracheal tube through the mouth and into the airway by an Anesthetist. In less severe cases of COVID-19, patients with difficulty breathing can be given oxygen through a face mask (Figure 1.2).
We Are Not Building Chevy Silverados Today:
Ventilators are sophisticated, costly medical devices that are in short supply throughout the world, given the current COVID-19 pandemic (Figure 2). Some of the major players that compete in the ventilator market include Getinge (www.getinge.com), Philips (www.philips.com), Drägerwerk AG (https://www.draeger.com/), Hamilton Medical (https://www.hamilton-medical.com/en_US/) and GE Healthcare (www.gehealthcare.com). According to Global Data , the world needs an extra 880,000 ventilators to deal with COVID-19 while the U.S. requires an additional 75,000 ventilators and France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK collectively require 74,000 ventilators to close the gap. According to Stefan Dräger, CEO of Drägerwerk AG , one of the largest manufacturers of ventilators in the world, “The U.S. authorities have made a request for 100,000 ventilators. That likely exceeds the annual production capacity of all manufacturers. It is absolutely mission impossible.”
As a result, Federal governments in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have asked some of their corporations with vast expertise in manufacturing to repurpose themselves and adapt to meet an unprecedented challenge. In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked vacuum cleaner manufacturers, Dyson (www.dyson.com) and Gtech (https://www.gtech.co.uk/) to rise and meet the challenge. Dyson responded within 10 days by developing CoVent™ (Figure 3), a portable ventilator. Gtech met the challenge within two weeks (Figure 4). When President Trump demanded General Motors and Ford to produce ventilators, they hunkered down and got to work.
What can be more inspiring to Middle School Students around the world than watching two of the largest auto manufacturers and vacuum clear companies in the world going back to school and working on solving one of the world’s greatest problems?
Ventilation and Muscle Health:
Although ventilators are urgently needed at this time, we cannot lose sight of the fact that ventilators are not very useful without skilled Anesthetists, ICU Nurses and Respiratory Therapists. It is important to keep in mind that ventilation therapy tends to provide greater benefit to patients that were in relatively good health prior to being placed on a ventilator. In a study published by Researchers at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan, it was reported that patients with age-related muscle loss, a condition known as sarcopenia are more likely to become difficult-to-wean from a ventilator and suffer mortality in the ICU relative to patients that are not sarcopenic . Although building muscle mass will not reduce the odds that you will get COVID-19, it is likely that increased muscle mass may help your body ‘weather the storm’ better if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself very ill. Increased muscle mass and strength is associated with reduced mortality from all causes .
Learn more about how the advanced nutrition product, Fortetropin® in combination with protein and resistance training can help you build muscle mass at www.myoslongevity.com. In the meanwhile, build muscle, stay healthy.
1. GlobalData. “Ventilator Crisis During Coronavirus Outbreak As Over 880,000 Are Needed.” March 23, 2020. https://www.globaldata.com/ventilator-crisis-during-coronavirus-outbreak-as-over-880000-are-needed/
2. Lukas Eberle and Martin U. Müller. “Interview with German Ventilator Manufacturer: Absolutely Mission Impossible.” Der Spiegel, March 27, 2020.
3. Kou, Hao-Wei, et al. “Sarcopenia is an effective predictor of difficult-to-wean and mortality among critically ill surgical patients.” PloS one 14.8 (2019).
4. Ruiz, Jonatan R., et al. “Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study.” Bmj 337 (2008): a439.
Figure 1: What You Need To Know About Ventilators.
Image from Hamilton Medical/BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52036948).
Figure 2: Dräger Evita® Infinity® V500 ICU Ventilator.
Figure 3: CoVent™, A Ventilator Developed by British Vacuum Cleaner Company, Dyson.
Image from CNN/Dyson (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/26/tech/dyson-ventilators-coronavirus/index.html).
Figure 4: Nick Grey and his Engineering Team with the Gtech Ventilator, GTech Headquarters, Worcester, UK.
Image from Gtech (https://www.gtech.co.uk/ventilators).