United States awards grant for production of low-cost ventilators in São Paulo

São Paulo, July 15, 2020: A group of researchers led by Prof. Marcelo Zuffo and Prof. Raul Lima from the Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo received almost US$ 200,000 (1 million reais) from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global to produce low-cost ventilators for use by hospitals in São Paulo.  On July 15, Sao Paulo’s state government announced that an initial batch of 40 ventilators will be supplied to Hospital das Clínicas.

“The high mortality rate of COVID-19 pandemic is associated with a secondary condition, ARDS [Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome], which demands precise protective pulmonary maneuvers promoted through lung ventilators,” Zuffo said. “In this proposal, we have designed an open-source, low-cost emergency lung ventilator named INSPIRE. INSPIRE is built from off-the-shelf components widely available, including high-end microcomputers based on the Single Board Computer (SBC) approach.”

While it has immediate applicability, the comprehension of how to approach ARDS through mechanical ventilation is a relevant long-term research line. Paul Sundaram, ONR Global Brazil Science Director, explains that there is a concern that simply connecting a patient to a ventilator without close monitoring is causing lung tissue damage, which may be the main cause of death. “The proposed cyber-physical ventilator will also enable the doctor to monitor the patient remotely.”

Furthermore, the design of cyber-physical, open-source ventilators offers a unique opportunity to collect data in real time. Such data properly analyzed can enhance the survival rate of ICU COVID-19 patients.

“The applicability of such techniques is immediate, since COVID-19 is still spreading across the globe, and a significant number of people can be benefited through such techniques,” Zuffo added.

ONR Global sponsors scientific efforts outside of the United States, working with scientists and partners worldwide to discover and advance naval capabilities.