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Interdisciplinary group is leading a strategic response to the global ventilator shortage

Edmonton, Alberta – April 6, 2020 An interdisciplinary group of front-line COVID-19 health professionals, biomedical engineers, and health economists have drafted a white paper entitled Recommendations for the Strategic Response to the Global Ventilator Shortage to provide a comprehensive framework for discussion and a call for an ethical, equitable, safe approach.

The ventilator shortage is a complex problem that requires cross-sectoral collaboration between stakeholders. Across the globe, there are frenzied efforts to scale-up existing and novel ventilator production, and to expedite regulatory processes. However, our group believes that without a coordinated response, there is a high risk of causing harm, duplicating efforts, depleting limited resources, overwhelming manufacturing capacities, backlogging regulatory systems, and producing substandard ventilators that fail to meet the needs of clinicians and potentially result in deaths.

The group is organized under the movement Safe Affordable Ventilators for All (SAVA), which is an initiative in the portfolio of Innovative Canadians for Change (ICChange), a Canadian international development non-profit. The white paper can be viewed and downloaded on their website.

SAVA’s aim is to provide policymakers, funders, legislators, and industry with a credible, reasoned framework for how to respond to the global ventilator shortage. Their team of frontline clinicians, researchers, engineers, global health practitioners, and ethicists bring a unique set of perspectives. Their hope is that this can serve as a discussion point for the worldwide effort to design and manufacture ethical, inexpensive, and above all, safe ventilators. In their white paper ( the team has listed ten recommendations to mitigate the risks of uncoordinated action:

  1. Establish an international framework for collaboration between stakeholders, sectors, and industries to coordinate efforts, with aims of safety, transparency, and equity of access;

  2. Establish evidence-based standards for minimum ventilation capacity in providing respiratory support for different stages of COVID-19 disease;

  3. Redirect high-capacity ventilators currently in use for non-critical patients toward patients with severe COVID-19 lung injuries;

  4. Develop a coordinated strategy to scale-up global production high-capacity ventilators by existing ventilator manufacturers, utilizing economic incentives, particularly for LMICs;

  5. Engage other industry manufacturers (i.e. automotive) to produce ventilators, with appropriate regulatory rigor;

  6. Engage in the spirit of open-source collaboration with organizations and manufacturers to develop new ventilators;

  7. Develop and mass produce two additional classes of ventilators: a. Low-capacity, low-cost ventilators suitable for light to moderate ventilatory needs, or requiring short-term respiratory support, or in low-resource settings; and b. High-capacity, moderate-cost ventilators for COVID-19 patients with severe lung injuries;

  8. Engage private-sector firms to innovate solutions, mobilize resources and facilitate global production, training and support;

  9. Streamline international regulatory and licensing processes to fast-track manufacturing and distribution, while maintaining safety and product standards; and

  10. Produce efficient, just-in-time, culturally appropriate training for the end user (i.e. clinicians).

For more information, please contact Harvey Hawes or Abdullah Saleh at


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