These are fast-moving, “interesting times.” In ten days, parts of the U.S. and Canada may experience a dire medical emergency, akin to what we see today in Italy. Hundreds of thousands may need respiratory support while their immune systems fight off the COVID-19 virus. Without that support, thousands could die.
I spent last week working with Peter Diamandis’s XPRIZE group to outline a “DIY Ventilator Challenge” – but events surged past as teams around the world are already leaping ahead, conjuring ways to amplify the number of ventilators available, or hacking emergency alternatives. Below you’ll find links to some of these projects, starting with an excellent 5-part tutorial on ventilators.
Here let me draw your attention to one project. While at the low end in sophistication and medical capability, it is peerless in aspects like low-cost and ease of construction. Steve Harrington and his Flometrics team built a prototype do-it-yourself respiration assistance device (DIYRAD) made entirely out of parts obtainable from Lowes or Home Depot. This very basic CPAP-like apparatus is not meant as a substitute for hospital care, but as a cheap, easy-to-make backup for use in a dire pinch by those with relatively stable, mild-to-moderate respiratory distress who cannot get such care, or who get turned away from over-burdened, overwhelmed ICUs.
Here’s a short introductory video: https://tinyurl.com/breathassist1
… plus a 7 minute, detailed, how-to video: https://tinyurl.com/breathassist2
… plus a detailed write-up: https://tinyurl.com/breathassist4 (With an appendix linking to other projects around the world.) (Note the disclaimer!)
And yes, all such efforts merit urgent support during the next, critical week or two!
There is a GoFundMe page… https://www.gofundme.com/f/diy-ventilator …
…though any of you with greater resources might approach Steve directly, via his email address given in the videos.
… and anyone with relevant contacts in Italy is especially welcome to pass all this along!
Late News: It may be hard to find a $10 painter’s filter mask, so 3D printing plans should be available shortly.
(For further news, I’ve set aside the address http://www.tinyurl.com/breathassistNEWS though that'll be later.)
That’s enough to chew on. But I’ll append a few other items of interest - some of them cool - below the signature.
Here’s wishing you all (and those you love) good health and good prospects for our world and civilization.
1. Among the resources listed for you in the appendix at https://tinyurl.com/breathassist4 is a fascinating and informative 5-part tutorial on ventilators: plus links to other DIY ventilator projects at McGill University, at MunichRE and in Italy, as well as lists compiled by MAKE Magazine.
2. Discussion is welcome at the lively comment community right here, under my blog CONTRARY BRIN. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/
3. Some of my past sci fi has been more pertinent than I’d want! My Hugo-nominated story “The Giving Plague” deals with our complex relationships with viruses and such, including the several paths a parasite can go down, in “negotiating” with us hosts…
4. Final COVID notes. The latest somewhat supported rumor mill items fall into the ‘Can’t hurt” category.
(i) avoid ibuprofen/advil… for now, till we know more... and
(ii) sniff a lemon (or anything strong) several times a day! At minimum a lemon-sniff will cheer you up a bit, I promise! But there are preliminary signs that the earliest-onset symptom is loss of smell. It’s not proved! But in this case we have one of those anecdotes that are absolutely harmless to try! (If you get sick, report how many days earlier you had smell failure. It's scientific data! But above all, get well soon.)
5. Remind me to talk later about the SOLUTION TO SAVE THE ECONOMY AND GET PEOPLE BACK TO WORK! Yes, I have one.
Oh, need cheering up? See my new sci fi comedy novel “The Ancient Ones.”