KARACHI: The novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the world with many countries including developed nations facing acute shortage of medical equipment while COVID-19 patients are dying due to the lack of ventilators.
During these difficult times, a private engineering firm in Pakistan has found an out-of-the-box solution, which would allow multiple patients to use just one ventilator simultaneously.
Alpha Rubber and Plastic Works, a Lahore-based company which manufactures auto parts, has developed a splitter which connects to the ventilator hoses and supplies oxygen to two to four patients at once and may be used multiple times.
Osama Usman, head of the private firm, told The Express Tribune that 'Plan 9' of Punjab IT Board of (PITB) had approached them to manufacture the connector using the 3D printer prototype.
He said the part was initially being manufactured by the PITB using the 3D printer technology which is a time-taking and costly procedure.
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Osama said despite facing a lot of hurdles due to the prevailing lockdown in the country, his firm manufactured it on an emergency basis only in 72 hours through painstaking efforts.
"Now we are manufacturing 1,000 ventilator connectors daily which is being supplied to various government and private hospitals in Punjab," he added.
Meanwhile, Hammad Khalique, who is head of business development at Plan 9, told The Express Tribune that health experts and professionals have expressed concerns over the safety and effectiveness of sharing ventilators.
He said the equipment should only be used in an emergency situation because the requirement of oxygen by a patient depends on his age and medical condition.
"keeping in mind worst-case scenario, we authorised its development," he said, adding that if need be this technique could be used given the fact that the number of ventilators in the country is very low.
Interestingly, the development of connector has made Pakistan only the second country to have this technology after the United States.
Osama said he is providing splitters to the hospitals free of charge and would supply this to the entire country if he was approached.
"I can supply connectors to the entire country and world free of charge," he added.
He also requested the Punjab government to ban its commercial trade and ensure that it is only used for welfare purposes.
The novel coronavirus – which emerged in the central China city of Wuhan in December 2019 and has since been declared a pandemic – has literally upended the world.
The COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the mysterious contagion has so far infected over one million people, with over 60,000 dead, in all continents of the world barring Antarctica.
Pakistan reported its first COVID-19 positive case on February 26, 2020 and has infected over 2,750 people in the country with 40 deaths and at least 130 recoveries.