SAHMRI and partners helping neighbouring nations combat COVID-19

01 May 2020
SAHMRI and partners helping neighbouring nations combat COVID-19

SAHMRI is part of a local collaboration developing a new ventilator to help Pacific Island and South East Asian nations treat COVID-19 patients.

Backed by funding from The Hospital Research Foundation, researchers at the University of Adelaide, Women’s and Children’s Hospital and SAHMRI have been testing a low-cost and non-invasive ventilator developed by Australian lung imaging technology company 4Dx.

Recognising that traditional ventilators require an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) setting and ICU trained staff, the research team, led by Associate Professor David Parsons, has banded together to develop a field ventilator that is simple to operate, easy to train staff to use and can be used outside of a traditional hospital setting as a ‘lung first-aid’ piece of equipment.

“Our trials support the ventilator’s use in developing countries and highly vulnerable locations as a simple, capable field-ventilator,” Associate Professor Parsons said.

“Its simpler design can be produced quickly and cheaply with the ability to meet clinical requirements.”

This is critical given the potential shortage of hospital and ICU beds in South East Asian countries, the Pacific Islands and Africa during the COVID-19 emergency.

The field ventilators are cost-effective at around $2,000 per unit versus approximately $16,000 for an ICU ventilator. They can be manufactured quickly in Australia without reliance on supply chains from China.

CEO of The Hospital Research Foundation, Paul Flynn, says his organisation’s $25,000 grant has supported the testing phases, with 4Dx developing the ventilator technology at their own cost and donating the intellectual property for use in the current emergency situation.

“We are very impressed by the potential of the ventilator to have an impact on the lives of patients across the world, particularly in developing countries,” he said.

This initiative is a “side-project” of the Australian Lung Health Initiative comprising 4Dx and Australia’s leading researchers in respiratory health from SAHMRI and the University of Adelaide. The consortium has been awarded a Medical Research Future Fund grant to develop the world’s first dedicated lung function scanner utilizing 4Dx’s groundbreaking XV Technology which is redefining how lung diseases are diagnosed and treated across the world.