Canadian doctor's brilliant 'evil genius' hack transforms 1 ventilator into 9
via Leapsmag / Twitter

One of the biggest obstacles to fighting COVID-19 in just about every country is the lack of ventilators. Patients with severe cases suffer from inflammation and a build-up of fluid in the lungs. This makes breathing and oxygenating the blood nearly impossible without a ventilator.

As COVID-19 cases rise in Canada, the medical community fears the country's largest province, Ontario, could run out of ventilators very soon.

"What our modeling is showing is that if we cannot keep these interventions in place ... we're going to run out of capacity really, really quickly — likely in the next two weeks," Beate Sander, a scientist who has been modeling the pandemic's impact on Ontario's health-care system, told the CBC.


The province is working to come up with more but it still may not be enough.

"We've procured 300 more ventilators to add to the 210 we currently have in surplus," Ontario health minister, Christine Elliott's spokesperson, told the CBC. "We continue to work on procuring additional ventilators."

If hospitals run short on ventilation equipment, they may be forced to make the dreadful decision between who dies and who is saved.

To get the most out of the ventilators at his hospital, Dr. Alain Gauthier, an anesthetist at the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital in Ontario, rigged one of the ventilators so it could serve up to nine people.

The hack was shared online by a fellow physician, who called him an "evil genius."

According to the CBC, the rigged ventilator will only work with patients that have similar lung capacities. Multiple hoses are attached to the machine so it is running several times its normal power.

"At one point we may not have other options," Gauthier told CBC News. "'The option could be well, we let people die or we give that a chance."

via Alan Drummond

Gauthier came up with the idea after seeing a 2006 video on YouTube. He says the idea has been tried once before, after the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017.

The hack was so impressive it even caught the attention of Elon Musk who tweeted, "Interesting thread."

Engineers in Italy earned similar attention this week for hacking scuba gear and turning it into a ventilator mask. Italy is the country second hardest-hit by the virus and is having its own troubles with equipment shortages.

In just three hours, Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli, engineers at Isinnova, created a prototype for a 3-D printed valve that successfully converts the scuba gear into a ventilator mask.

The mask tested successfully in an Italian hospital so the engineers have made the 3-D valve plans available to everyone for free.

The coronavirus has been a terrible scourge on humanity, but there will be some positives that come from the pandemic. Tragic events like this one push people to improvise and innovate new solutions that may help humanity in the future.

via Reddit

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less