In the face of the health emergency caused by the coronavirus, the Tucuman company Pilot Endoscopy developed an artificial respirator and according to its managers, the company has the capacity to manufacture 1,200 units in less than 45 days. To concretize their proposal they basically need two things: the final approvals of the province’s Ministry of Health and the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT), but above all, financing.
“To start manufacturing respirators we are going through two parallel stages. The expansion of the item to risk class III was presented to ANMAT and at the same time it is working together with the provincial Ministry of Health to validate it and make it available. We hope they validate our equipment and allow us to distribute it. We are very optimistic, “he told Infobae Fernando Figueroa, industrial designer and CEO of the company. According to the projections and the data they handle, they could produce between 1,200 and 1,500 respirators in a period of between 40 and 45 days.
“The province, according to optimistic calculations, says that 10,000 people could be infected and from there 5 percent would need mechanical ventilatory assistance. We know that Tucumán currently has 250 respirators and would need at least 700 ”, he calculated..
Pilot is a company founded more than 18 years ago on the initiative of Juan José Torres, a surgeon from the National University of Tucumán. It is dedicated, from the town of Yerbabuena, to the manufacture of a wide range of electromedical instruments and equipment. These are elements that are more complex than a respirator. However, in the face of the pandemic of COVID-19 and the general shortage of these devices in the Argentine health system, they decided to take advantage of their technical and human capacity to create Wayra, an artificial respirator designed and manufactured in less than a week that meets all the necessary technical specifications. Its name, in the native Aymara language, means “air”.
It’s about a “high complexity microprocessed electronic artificial respirator for adults in intensive care that is capable of responding to all types of pathology that require mechanical respiration“He explained. Figueroa added that what they offer is a “COVID 19 emergency transition intensive care respirator.” Although it was developed in the framework of the pandemic, “it is a respirator that arises to respond to the lack of this type of equipment.”
It costs approximately $ 1,000 to make a respirator, but the company manager clarified that they are able to reduce these values because they have “computerized numerical control machines, which allow to manufacture by their own means various parts that make up the respirator such as respiratory valves, solenoid valves or regulators “. All elements that are lacking worldwide.
From abroad, however, there are some parts that need to be imported and made in China: generic supplies, sensors, medical-grade power supplies, electronic boards, and displays. For this they need a significant investment and ask for support from both the State and the private sector. In recent weeks, they received good news. The Tucumán Electric Power Distribution and Marketing Company (EDET) It provided logistical help for the import of the supplies and gave a financial contribution for the production of equipment. Thus, Pilot was already able to manufacture at least 150 units.
“The company EDET financed the production of 150 respirators and we hope that new companies will begin to appear that want to make their financial contribution so that we can reach our goal of manufacturing 1,200 units. We also attended a call for loans for companies that can develop technical equipment to combat the pandemic. We presented the project and it is in approval, but we expect a positive response, “said Figueroa.
If they get what they need, they would be the third company in the country that produces this type of device. The other two are the companies Tecme and Leistung, but when faced with the demand, they were unable to cope and the Argentine state decided to intervene in the sale and distribution to the provinces. “Those companies are responding to the lack of respirators, but they have all their production destined to the demand of the State. So there is a very large vacancy that we want to help answer“Figueroa remarked. Now subtract the final evaluation, which is when the ventilator will be tested with a patient simulator robot.
“The equipment is currently in operation at the factory for more than two weeks and is doing perfectly. The second stage of evaluation, which is done in conjunction with the Ministry of Education of the Province, is in which we hope that they validate our equipment and allow us to distribute it in Tucumán, ”he said. In the event of a green light, the number of company employees would triple to meet demand: they would go from the current 15 workers to almost 50.
The initial idea is to allocate what they do to the province and part of the Argentine northwest, but if necessary, they maintain that they could do it for the rest of the country. “The respirator is targeted to local demand Because in order to market it in the country we need the authorization of ANMAT and we are still working on the complete documentation that we have to present. Our idea is that it can serve both public and private entities, “he said.
Despite knowing that it is a very complicated context, Figueroa is optimistic and willing to lend a hand from what the company knows how to do. “It is a very critical moment in which we are betting 100% of our productive capacity, knowledge and scientific and technological contribution to make it available to people. We know that we can create a product to save lives and therein lies the whole, “he concluded.