Metallurgists propose innovation to adapt respirators

A collaborative project circulating in the national metal industry calls for the sector to work to reduce the lack of respirators in the country.

This is an approach of Adox, a firm based in Ituzaingó –in the Buenos Aires suburbs–, which for 25 years has been producing supplies for medical technologies.

The proposal is to manufacture anesthesia respirator adapters for use in patients with coronavirus, equipment that is being released because health centers are rescheduling surgeries that are not urgent.

The project was developed with the Association of Metallurgical Industrialists of the Argentine Republic (Adimra), with the idea that other companies in the sector join in the manufacture of valves that today are lacking due to high global demand.

Similar ideas explore countries like the United States, Italy, and England, along with automakers like Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA), and General Motors.

The development was presented to the Secretary of Industry of the Nation, but also to the National Institute of Industrial Technology (Inti) and the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (Anmat), entities that must approve or correct it for its implementation.

“Now it depends on the official times, but your authorities are aware of the speed that is needed,” said Javier Viqueira, president of Adox, who clarified that this “does not replace mechanical respirators” and that it is a momentary solution “without ends profit ”to overcome shortages.

According to statistics, five percent of patients with coronavirus require hospitalization and one part needs respirators.

Although there are no accurate data, official and private estimates indicate that there are between 5,000 and 9,000 respirators in the country, some with up to 10 years old, since it is common to maintain them when the cold season begins.

The Córdoba Chamber of Metallurgical and Components Industries contacted the project and made its research center available (see aside) as well as its partners to assist the only two respirator manufacturers in the country, the Cordovan Tecme and Leistung.

“There are many good intentions, but the reality is that we may not arrive with the speed of response that this requires, because to produce inputs, the approval of official organizations is required,” warned the head of the entity, Eduardo Borri.

In this regard, the Argentine Bioengineering Society issued a warning through a statement: “It is important to note that this device, considered life support, can cause the death of a patient if its operation is not validated. For this reason, we discourage any initiative that does not meet the requirements of the Anmat ”.

Silmag, at full capacity

On the other hand, the Cordoba firm Silmag, autopartist in its genesis and which has been manufacturing biomedical products for 25 years, works at its plant in Las Higueras (Río Cuarto) “to its full productive capacity” to make cannulas for oxygen therapy.

These ducts are used in patients who are leaving therapy and need oxygen assistance, so the firm expects a peak in demand.

“Our distributors in the world –exports to more than 20 countries– made a stock important, so now we focus on the domestic market. Today the great demand is for respirators, then there will be the demand for cannulas for the patient who leaves the respirator ”, explained Fernando Gaido, general manager of the company.

With 180 employees, Silmag produces more than a million units a year among all its products – drains, probes and vascular devices, among others -, of which, in general, supplies for the respiratory tract represent 14 percent, but it plans to increase that level to 40 percent, for which in March it already doubled its manufacturing.

Córdoba connection: Arteaga Center

This space would act as the local link for the project.

The Adox and Adimra project foresees the active participation of all the technological and research centers that the metallurgical association has throughout the country.

For this reason, the Technological Center of Arteaga, of the Chamber of Metallurgical Industries and Components of Córdoba, would act as a link between the project and the initiatives that appear in the center of the country, according to the first conversations held by the organizers and the Cordovan entity.

Print edition

The original text of this article was published on 03/25/2020 in our printed edition.