‘Project Prana’ low-cost ventilators are a life saver for India amid pandemic


Project Prana by MIT students Shriya Srinivasan and Rajib Mondal have come up with multiplex ventilators called iSave to fight against the deadly virus. The second wave of COVID-19 hit resulted in ventilator crisis in India and other medical support. The student duo to curb the shortage of ventilators they came up with low-cost ventilators to make them affordable to people in wide range. There have also been other innovation to help in saving lives of people affected due to COVID-19. 

Project Prana’s iSave

Image: Project Prana

As the COVID cases in India are increasing, the patients are in desperate need of oxygen cylinders, beds, ventilators and other medical support. Ventilator crisis in India have been increasing to help people during the pandemic students from MIT – Shriya Srinivasan and Rajib Monda developed the low-cost multiplex ventilators, iSave through Project Prana.

The Individualised System for Augmenting Ventilator Efficacy (iSave) can connect one ventilator to two patients. The innovation can also help to monitor the parameters and, it reaches the needs of each patient. A fully operating ventilator costs approximately Rs 43 lakh. The iSave ventilator is priced at Rs 45,000 and is fully manufactured in Chennai, India.

The team consists of 10 people and the Chennai collaborator company of Project Prana, which manufactures the equipment.

The ventilators can be assembled by anyone within 10 minutes to support the patient during the treatment.

Project Prana – What is it all about? 

iSAVE on the Indventr Ventilator (Image: Project Prana)

Project Prana works in partnership with the IndVentr consortium to overcome the pandemic problems associated with medical support shortages. With the strike of COVID-19 cases, healthcare systems are hoping to strengthen their ventilators supply to meet the needs of various patients who need mechanical ventilation assistance. 

Project Prana

The Prana project, a non-profit organisation established by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital through the efforts of biomedical engineering. The foundation aims to develop device-based and instructional solutions for global ventilator shortages. 

They make use of the individualised System for Augmenting Ventilator Capacity Enhancement System (iSAVE), a rigorously tested multiplex ventilation system that enables patient-specific treatment in various countries globally. This device has been recently released in Science Translational Medicine to validate two subjects simultaneously.

Student Developers of iSave

Shriya Srinivasan and Rajib Mondal

Shriya, a postdoc at Bob Langer’s laboratory at MIT. She works in the field of neuronal engineering and prosthesis. Rajib is a student who is pursuing PhD at Harvard and MIT in health sciences and technology.

Also Read: IIT Bombay innovative oxygen generator to solve the shortage of O2

Results of iSave

iSave Results
Image: Project Prana

The iSAVE uses a series of parallel valves and flow controls to efficiently keep the required tidal level and positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) under volume control for each patient. 

The Y or T connection for each patient is used in closed circuit ventilators to multiply individual inspiratory channels. Each channel of inspiration includes a filter, a flow control valve and a one-way flow valve and regular pressure, flow and capstan sensors.

The expiratory extremity consists of a filter, pressure release valve and a single-way valve, which are redirected back into the ventilator before attachment to Y or T connectors.

The iSAVE can be calibrated to both open circuit ventilators (which consist of a passive exhalation limb only) as well as closed-circuit ventilators (which have inspiratory and expiratory limbs).

Open-circuit ventilators may be used at the same circuit so that an exhalation adapter of the expiratory limb or similar valve for the expiratory flow port is attached to the whisper Swivel (Philips Respironics). It is easily accessible in hospitals. They use positive expiratory pressure (PEP).

Ventilator crisis in India 

Representative Image (Ventilator crisis in India)
Image: Canva

The pandemic’s second wave not only devastated medical facilities in respect of hospital beds but also caused inefficiencies in intrusive ventilators and medical oxygen capacities and supplies. On the one side, the intrusive ventilator industry is discovering empty stock at some hospitals due to a shortage of qualified personnel to service them, as opposed to those hospitals with urgent cases that lack certain devices.

The medical oxygen manufacturing industry is facing a rising challenge in the supply of liquid oxygen.

A lack of medical systems around the world was subjected to the Covid 19 pandemic. Industry data shows that India had eight ventilator manufacturers with an estimated ability to produce 3,360 ventilators before the pandemic. Nine more players joined the field during the Covid challenge and increased Indian production potential to 396 260 per year.

Covid challenges

As the Covid-19 cases increases across India, the demand for ventilators is expected to increase as well. Many Indian innovators are rising to the challenge, when these life-saving devices are not widely available on the international market for purchase. The main problem for emerging producers, however, is consistency.

Despite the fact 3.68 lakh new Covid cases and 3,417 deaths rising to 1.99 Crore cases in total the country’s facilities serving Covid-19 patients still have an adequate inventory of ventilators. However, if the figures begin to rise, the situation might quickly deteriorate. If the pandemic may not end soon, India may need 1.5 lakh ventilators, as per one estimate.

The need for ventilators is so intense even today. India lacks more than 50% of the ventilators need for COVID-19 treatment.

Hence, innovations like low-cost ventilators are very important for India in the present crisis.

Affordable Ventilator Innovations 

Dynamatic Technology, a Bangalore-based engineering devices manufacturer, has created the world’s most low-cost ventilator. Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog, disclosed in a tweet that the ventilators developed by dynamite technology do not need electricity to operate and no component will be imported. 

This device retains pressure while still controlling the oxygen mix in a regulated breathing system. The ventilator was priced at Rs.2500. To combat the transmission of coronavirus, the team expects to supply approximately 50,000 office disposable ventilators. These disposable ventilators can be useful in India because they do not need electricity and are portable.


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