While there appears to be a global shortage of ventilators, some are now looking at veterinary practices to see if ventilators designed for animals could be repurposed.
In the UK, the Animal Health Trust, along with other veterinary referral centers, “is currently in discussion with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine about the possibility of sharing ventilators to help support the NHS”, a statement said. (Source: Horsetalk.co.nz)
In Scotland, the Edinburgh Evening News interviewed Keith Simpson, the managing director of Devon-based, Vetronic Services Ltd who believes that the company’s Merlin ventilators which sell for around £5,000 could theoretically be used in Intensive Care Units. These are ventilators typically used on dogs and cats. The company also makes a unit that is used for large animals, such as horses.
The human field in terms of respiratory control is way above that in the animal field – they have a lot of modes and features on their machines that veterinary ventilators don’t have.
“The human field in terms of respiratory control is way above that in the animal field – they have a lot of modes and features on their machines that veterinary ventilators don’t have. However, the machines like the Merlin and others will provide a volume cycle quite adequately for human patients.”
Obviously, these aren’t like the $50,000 units in many hospitals, but we don’t have enough of those.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, hospitals in the United States have roughly 160,000 ventilators. There are a further 12,700 in the National Strategic Stockpile, a cache of medical supplies maintained by the federal government to respond to national emergencies. That isn’t nearly enough to support the many people who may need them.
It’s certainly a strategy worth considering.