Coronavirus in Scotland: Ventilators used on cats and dogs could be used on humans in hospital

A company that makes animal ventilators have spoken to medical professionals about the possibility of them being made available for use on humans during the coronavirus outbreak.
Animal ventilators could be used in intensive care.Animal ventilators could be used in intensive care.
Animal ventilators could be used in intensive care.

Keith Simpson, the managing director of Devon-based, Vetronic Services Ltd told the Scotsman the Merlin ventilators which sell for around £5,000 could theoretically be used in Intensive Care Units (ICU).

The move comes after the Scottish NHS ordered three hundred ventilators to double capacity as hospitals prepare to deal with a surge in

Animal ventilators could be used on humansAnimal ventilators could be used on humans
Animal ventilators could be used on humans
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Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday that orders were “in place” to increase Scotland’s ventilator capacity from 360 to 700 and that the Scottish government was looking for more.

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Mr Simpson said he had spoken to a clinical anaesthetist and now believes the machines used on cats and dogs could be adapted for human use.

He said: “We have two ventilators that may be useful by humans - one is the large animal Tafonius ventilator, used predominantly for horses- which is a joint venture by myself and a colleague in the United States.

“The Merlin is another form of ventilator for dogs and cats - that one we solely manufacture here.

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“The human field in terms of respiratory control is way above that in the animal field - they have a lot of modes and features on their machines that veterinary ventilators don’t have.

“However, the machines like the Merlin and others will provide a volume cycle quite adequately for human patients.”

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “As cases of coronavirus increase, it is vital that Scotland’s hospitals are able to cope with the demand for intensive care beds and ventilator support.

“Offers of help coming from companies which make ventilators for animals, shows just how worrying this situation is. We must be confident that all equipment in the NHS meets the highest safety standards and that there will enough beds available to care for those who will sadly need it in the coming months.”

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“Scottish Government plans to double ICU capacity are a welcome first step but I have also written to Jeane Freeman to ask how many ventilators have been ordered and how soon we can see this equipment in our hospitals, as well as what additional ICU staffing support will be in place.”

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