Tuesday, September 22, 2020 ((rezonodwes.com)) – Doctors are busy around an operating table, where a pig weighing about 30 pounds is lying, intubated and anesthetized. He serves as a guinea pig in a veterinary clinic at the University of Panama to test a new model of ventilator, intended for patients of the coronavirus in critical condition.
The animal is surrounded by machines which watch for its slightest vital signs, while 'he breathes with difficulty, to the monotonous rhythm of the respirator which keeps him alive.
Fourteenth on the list of guinea pigs, the animal baptized N-14 participates in his defensive body in a research program to develop new models of respirators to cope with a possible shortage of devices.
Covid-19: in Panama, a pig serves as a guinea pig for a new respiratorThe first tests were carried out on dummies, but the experimentation on animals is essential before using the new ventilator on patients, explains to AFP Dr. José Manuel Trujillo, specialist in intensive care.
Panama (4 million inhabitants), nt the record for the number of coronavirus cases in Central America, with more than 104,000 confirmed cases, including 2,213 dead.
Even though the daily number of deaths and positive cases has been declining in recent weeks, authorities fear a rebound of the epidemic thanks to the gradual resumption of economic activity and the end of containment measures.
The animal is surrounded by machines which watch for its slightest vital signs, while it breathes with difficulty, to the monotonous rhythm of the ventilator which keeps it alive. Panama wants “to be able to develop locally” about fifty ventilators, indicates one of the coordinating researchers of the project, Rolando Gittens.
“One of the main ones problems we have been facing with this pandemic is the shortage of devices and supplies globally, “he notes.
For their experiments, the researchers use healthy pigs between 25 and 25 years old. 40 kg, supplied by Panamanian breeders.
The animals are placed in an artificial coma and intubated. By then administering saline to N-14, the researchers cause a lung injury that mimics the breathing difficulties of critically ill coronavirus patients.
The animal is then connected alternately to a conventional respirator and to a local prototype, in order to be able to compare the performance of the two devices.
After approximately two and a half hours of tests, the animal will be euthanized.
“What we try most of all during the process is that (the guinea pigs) don't feel any pain,” insists Juan Tapia, a veterinarian.
For the moment, the tests are being carried out. on seven respirator prototypes, two of which are in the final stages of experimentation.
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