Peruvian Navy Develops Ventilators amid Coronavirus Emergency

Peruvian Navy Develops Ventilators amid Coronavirus Emergency

By Gonzalo Silva Infante/Diálogo
April 29, 2020

The Peruvian Navy has developed the first mechanical ventilator made exclusively in the country to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

Under the leadership of the Armed Forces, a team of engineers from the Peruvian Navy, universities, and private companies built the ventilator dubbed Samay, which means “breathe” in the Quechua language. About 10 units of the lung ventilator have already been manufactured and were made available to the Navy Medical Center in mid-April.

“It’s a great contribution from the Peruvian Navy to citizens in these difficult times, and it shows how the ingenuity, training, and professionalism of the Peruvian sailor can lead us to carry out these important actions,” said Admiral Fernando Cerdán Ruiz, Peruvian Navy commander.

On March 19, just three days after Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra declared a state of emergency for the country due to the pandemic, the team of engineers led by Captain Jorge Dorrego Arias, deputy director of the Navy’s Scientific Research and Technological Development, began working at the Naval Medical Center. Two weeks later, after long hours of work, they presented the prototype.

“We used industrial components that can operate continuously,” said engineer Nicolay Vinces Ramos, coordinator of Mechatronic Engineering at the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences, about the unit, which costs about $5,000 to produce.

“It meets the minimum benefits that are required and that the medical board has set to safeguard and give a chance at life to those who need it,” said Capt. Dorrego Arias.

Given the high international demand for mechanical ventilators for COVID-19 patients, and the units’ high prices, the Navy’s project is key to saving lives. The international medical journal The Lancet says COVID-19 affects the respiratory system and can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome, which requires the use of a lung ventilator.

The Medical Engineering Research Center at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru said on its website that the country likely has about 300 high-end ventilators, which can cost up to $50,000. In a television announcement on April 4, President Vizcarra described the Navy project as a major step in the government’s strategy, as the delivery of mechanical ventilators in the international market takes three to six months.

“We want it now […]. If we have these 10 units in 10 days, maybe in the next month we can develop the first 100 units. We will provide the resources that are needed,” Vizcarra said about the ventilators, which will be delivered to the Ministry of Health for distribution.