Evaluation and feasibility study on the OVSI ventilator in ICU patients with acute respiratory failure in a low-income country setting: a prospective observational comparative study

1 v4

Written by Dr Arthur Kwizera, Lecturer in Anaesthesia and Intensive care at Makerere University College of Health Sciences and a staff intensivist at the Mulago National Referral Hospital Intensive care unit. Dr Kwizera is also a THRiVE fellow.

COVID-19 is caused by the highly contagious severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the first outbreak of which was reported in Wuhan, China, at the beginning of December, 2019. Since then, it has spread rapidly across the world, with hundreds of thousands of new cases each day when the second wave began, as of late October, 2020. Of the patients diagnosed with COVID-19, 15% are estimated to need essential critical care in hospital, whilst 3% – 5% of patients require advanced critical care to receive invasive ventilation. Mechanical ventilators have become a symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic, representing the last best hope to survive for people who can no longer draw a life-sustaining breath. Whilst Africa is grappling with an oxygen supply shortage, there is also a need for cost effective multipurpose ventilators that can be manufactured in Africa beyond the COVID pandemic era. It is estimated that at least 120,000 ventilators and critical care beds will be needed at the peak of the pandemic on the continent, that compares with 9,800 at present, according to a Reuters survey. The OVSI project is developing a low cost, high quality full mechanical ventilator that has been created with the African context in mind, but also complies with global standards. After successful completion of artificial lung and other lab tests, and having obtained ethical approvals, a prototype will be compared to ventilators in use with regard to specific performance characteristics at both non-invasive and invasive modes. I will be leading this study in Uganda, supported by a Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund COVID-19 Emergency Award and working with OVSI partners, including Professor Axel Zeitler at the University of Cambridge and Dr Jacobus Preller, Consultant Intensivist and Acute Medicine Physician Addenbrooke’s Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.