Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have developed a low-cost, open-source ventilator to address the shortage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Named Spiro Wave, a version of the ventilator is currently being produced by a consortium of partners, including 10XBeta, Boyce Technologies and Newlab.

The aim is to rapidly fulfil the Covid-19-related ventilator requirements at hospitals in New York, followed by other hospitals across the US.

Furthermore, the MIT team is working to refine the ventilator’s design to make it more compact and add a respiratory function.

10XBeta, Vecna Technologies and NN Life Sciences are part of the project.

The team intends to provide open-source guidelines, instead of plans or kits, to allow other teams to develop their own versions.

To develop the new ventilator, the researchers automated the squeezing of a manual emergency resuscitator bag by using two curved paddles powered by a motor.

The automation of emergency resuscitator bags, which are already available in hospitals, will enable a rapid scale-up.

MIT research scientist Nevan Hanumara said: “While our design cannot replace a full-featured ventilator, it does provide key ventilation functions that will allow healthcare facilities under pressure to better ration their ICU ventilators and human resources in a bad scenario.”

The aim is not to directly launch own production or even to provide a single, detailed set of plans. However, the researchers are planning to provide a ‘solid reference design’.

Hanumara added: “Provided clinical safety is shown, we will probably see many of these around the world, with some shared DNA from us, as well as local flavours. And I think that will be beautiful because it will mean that people all over are working hard to help their communities.”