VSSC was asked to expedite work after the second Covid-19 wave stunned the country’s healthcare system

The VSSC started working on these ventilators at the beginning of the first wave of Covid-19 in March 2020 but the work slowed down with the threat diminishing late last year.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Kerala, said it has developed three different types of ventilators and an oxygen concentrator at a time when a shortage of these critical medical equipment resulted in deaths of many Covid-19 patients across the country.

Technology transfer will be done for the commercial production of these three ventilators and the one oxygen concentrator by this month itself, said VSSC director S Somanath. Likely to be priced around ₹1 lakh, the ventilators developed by the ISRO were cost effective and easy to handle compared to the mini conventional ventilators that are currently priced around ₹5 lakh.

“Based on designs, features and specifications, we have named them, Prana, VaU and Svasta. All three are user-friendly, fully automated and with touch-screen specifications, meeting all safety standards,” the director said, adding doctors and other experts have checked its efficacy and confirmed it meets international standards.

In fact the VSSC started working on these ventilators during the first wave in March 2020 but the work slowed down with the threat diminishing late last year. However, the institute was asked to expedite work after the second wave of the disease stunned the country’s healthcare system, causing several deaths due to lack of ventilators, oxygen and Covid-19 medicines such as Remdesivir.

While Prana is meant to deliver respiratory gas to the patient by automated compression of an Ambu bag, Svasta is designed to work without electric power, and the VaU is a low-cost ventilator equivalent to commercially available high-end ventilators.

“The system is envisaged as a dual-mode ventilator that can work with either medical air/oxygen from the hospital or with ambient air,” director S Somanath said.

The VSSC has also developed a portable medical oxygen concentrator called Shwaas. “It is capable of supplying 10 litre enriched oxygen per minute, adequate for two patients at a time,” he said. It enhances the oxygen gas content by selectively separating the nitrogen gas from ambient air through Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) which is commonly used for production of oxygen from air, he said.