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How Israel Solved the Ventilator Shortage:

Organizing Creativity

By Shlomo Maital

As the world seems to be slowly emerging from the pandemic, fears now turn to a possible second wave. So, we may still need ventilators, in large quantities.

     Here is how a creative Israeli team has attacked this problem, according to Rosella Tercatin, writing in the daily Jerusalem Post, May 10:

      “Manshema, a $200-a-piece open source technology created by an Israeli team, could solve the problem of the shortage of ventilators crucial to assist patients who contract the most serious forms of COVID-19 worldwide.

       “Around mid-March, a group of Israeli organizations – including the IDF, the Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod and Rafael Advanced Technology – engaged several hundreds of their affiliated experts in what they called a “COVID-19 sprint.” The participants were divided into 16 teams to work on finding solutions to a list of problems related to the pandemic. One of the teams decided to tackle the problem of creating a very simple but effective ventilator.

       “As explained to The Jerusalem Post by Mordechai Halfon, an officer at the Technological Division of the IDF Ground Forces, within two weeks a first working prototype of the machine was ready.

     “Our device does not intubate patients, no tube is inserted in their throat to push the air in, they can still breath on their own but the hard work is done by the machine,” he said. “It is catered specifically to COVID-19 patients, who required a very specific type of ventilation. This is why it is so simple, as opposed to regular ventilators which need to be suitable for many different kinds of needs.”

     “The Manshema team includes different kind of engineers, medical experts, product managers, who had never met before. Seven of them have been working on the project full time – Gil Bachar, Stav B., Elad Grozovski, Ronen Zilberman, Roi Galili Darnell, Ivry Shapira, Omri Mizrachi – others are contributing in different capacities.

   “At the beginning, the group worked on the task by themselves, meeting online when required. Afterwards, they started to meet at the Tel Aviv branch of Assuta.

     “The project is completely nonprofit and opensource, which means that all the relevant information is available to any manufacturer interested in producing them or medical center in using them all over the world.”

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus: Cheap Israeli technology may solve world ventilator shortage

The project is completely nonprofit and opensource.

By ROSSELLA TERCATIN  

MAY 10, 2020 17:

“Because we are talking about a world-wide pandemic, it was important for the ventilator to be cheap and easy to manufacture. We also wanted it to be disposable,” Stav B., a doctoral student at the Tel Aviv University, told the Post. “Quite at the beginning, we were selected by the Health Ministry as a pilot project and they supported us.”

Since the cost of production of every unit stands at about $200 and the time required at around two/three hours of work, while ventilators available to the market cost from several thousands to several dozen thousand dollars and have become harder and harder to find and purchase, the product could really revolutionize the fight against the virus even in the poorest countries.

“We have received a lot of support also from many companies here in Israel. We have found out that since nobody is involved in the initiative to make money, everyone has been very happy to help us in providing what we needed just for the goal of fighting the virus,” Halfon explained.

The product will undergo clinical trials at Assuta Medical Center in the next few weeks.

“In the first phase, we are going to test it on healthy volunteers, which should be easy to find, after on patients and critical patients. We are not sure how long it will take to complete the trial, but we are hoping that we are going to be ready before the next wave of the virus, if it comes,” the captain pointed out. “We believe that this machine can save a lot of lives.”

Halfon explained that when everything started, they did not think they would be able to arrive to this point.

“We worked through steps. First, we decided to dive into the actual requirements that the machine would need, then we focused on how the solution would look in a broader perspective and only then on how to build the machine,” he said.

“I think it is important to highlight two key elements in our work: the quality of the team effort and the will to do something good,” he concluded.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
May 2020
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