We need Ventilators — We Need You to Help Get Them Built

Bruce Fenton

I am leading the ventilators sub group of the EndCoronavirus.org organization.

We need your help.


EndCoronavirus.org is an effort by NECSI, (Twitter: @necsi) The New England Complex Systems Institute, a group of scientists led by Yaneer Bar Yam (Twitter: @yaneerbaryam ) follow the account at @endcovid19

The volunteer group is heavily staffed with scientists from Harvard and MIT and others who have an understanding of pandemics, medicine, systems, risk and the key numbers and data behind this threat.

There are many fronts in this fight. One is in having the proper equipment.

Ventilators are a key piece of emergency medical equipment which is needed in great quantities in this crisis.

Part of the reason for the chilling life and death decisions we see in Italy is due to lack of equipment.

We must help improve this.

The Ventilator Project’s purpose

1) find & share data on potential need for ventilators/ ventilator shortages and locations and work to get capacity filled

2) find existing manufacturers of standard, medically approved ventilators who can increase production immediately -/ this is the primary goal — it is ideal from a regulatory and practical standpoint to work on existing manufacturers — especially in the US & similar places

3) work on open source plans for cheap/ easy emergency ventilators that hospitals can use (some of these plans exist) — this is a secondary goal after working with manufacturers — it is harder but may be needed in certain areas of the world

4) work on legal / emergency regulatory (HHS/ FDA equivalent globally) authorization to allow hospitals in various jurisdictions to use the emergency ventilators

5) share plans and ensure we have enough capacity for ventilator need in the all global areas with a need

The Apollo 13 astronauts created an oxygen scrubber from spare parts.

This is the aim of open source ventilator plans.

We need volunteers:

  • people with connections to existing manufacturers who can help get their capacity increased
  • medical/ doctors who understand what is safe & needed, who can provide practical tips and advice to engineers on design and use
  • Attorneys/ legal experts/ policy outreach, political connections — people in all countries who can work on getting emergency ventilators approved for use — you need to be tough and creative — this isn’t a 6 month approval process, this is us making a solution right now and banging on the door until any obstacles are taken down
  • People with manufacturing experience / knowledge of medical devices, knowledge of logistics and supply chains, how to we get these made, how to get them to the hospitals in need
  • builders who can take the specs and build — whether it’s one ventilator in your home workshop or retooling your factory to make 1000 — every ventilator is a potential life saved
  • Engineers, who can build a legit ventilator that can pass emergency safety standards with HHS/ FDA (or similar authorities globally) from Home Depot type parts — people who can modify or speed up existing processes in existing complaint manufacturers
  • writers, influencers, web devs, social media, people who can create documentation, we need people who can contribute to the overall effort

By the way, if ventilators are not the main fit for your expertise, please still volunteer at NECSI and help them get the word out on the many other key initiatives in this fight. Not the least of which is aggressive social distancing now!

This group is solid and it’s been the most impressive decentralized effort I’ve ever seen. Please join.

Some of the first steps are

1) gathering existing open source emergency ventilator plans — there seem to be several online — we need volunteers who can review these, determine what is effective and safe — this and all other steps MUST be science driven — this will need a high degree of quality — decisions on plans MUST be approved by volunteers who are active & relevant field medical doctors, credentialed scientists and others with proven expertise in complaint medical devices. — alternative medicine and home therapies might be great, but not for this specific project — for this one we will need global regulatory approval for use in hospitals so will have to have those standards — not to mention this needs to be as safe as possible — very high bars

2) identifying manufacturers who can make conventional ventilators now & finding contact info — I and others can start calling them Monday but we need a list

Key is to get them to increase capacity — convince them of the demand or make orders

3) getting lawyers or political/ legal experts who can help get emergency permissions in place for the use of the devices in all global jurisdictions — and to speed up existing conventional manufacturing

4) we also need any data we can find on

a) current numbers

b) expected shortages, where and how many

I’ve heard various estimates based on need. — we have 2x if it’s like the 1957 influenza we need X if it’s like the 1918 Spanish flu then we need X*10. — we expect it to be Y. (I’m not positing the numbers here because part of the project is to identity and report the most accurate and objective data)

Can we find, verify and substantiate what the real numbers and real need is? This is key in both ensuring our efforts are a well placed use of resources and in getting support. [section to be updated]

Is our assumption that we need more ventilators valid? How valid? How do we prove this? Which areas? How many exactly? What is the max capacity increase from existing conventional manufacturers? What is the max capacity of the emergency / homemade type of units? What can be done with existing factory’s? Can any of this learning help on masks or gloves or anything else we need?

Anyone who can help on the above or recruit people to do so, please do

To be clear

There are two simultaneous initiatives

1) finding existing, legal, approved ventilator manufacturers and getting them to increase capacity now —- massively — in WWII we turned out a plane an hour, that’s what we need to do with this, all over the world

2) separately — finding ways to make cost effective/ emergency ventilators (and finding legal ways to get them approved for emergency use in various countries) decentralized for any country or hospital in need and something that can be produced with basic equipment

This was inspired by an ER doc friend who I asked if he could make a ventilator from Home Depot parts — he said it absolutely can be done.

In war citizens can get emergency laws and rules changed

We can do this

We need to do this in a week.


  • on all matters of medicine and science I’m going to defer to doctors and scientists — I’m not a doctor, designer or engineer — I know open source and systems —- volunteers are providing the know how and legal work
  • all help is welcome, this project belongs to you and the world

Please provide notes and help

(This is not a time to spare feelings. If anything I say is stupid, fix it. Be productive, be value added.)

Bruce Fenton

CEO Chainstone Labs

Your actions

  • volunteer at endCoronavirus.org
  • – Join the slack channel
  • – Volunteer based on your skills
  • – If interested in helping this project specifically, join the #ventilators channel
  • – Hashtag #projectventilators and spread the word
  • Follow @endcovid19 on twitter
  • Visit https://www.endcoronavirus.org and share the data, follow and share the papers and recommendations
  • – Get to work, building, fabricating, talking
  • – Take leadership — don’t wait for permission — go



Twitter is a good source for news in a fast moving space, I’m At @brucefenton