Photo: Ehécatl 4T


Poorly designed, twice as expensive and scantily delivered. Those were the qualities attributed by frontline medical personnel to the Ehécatl 4T ventilators developed by Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology (Conacyt) in 2020 to confront the covid-19 pandemic.

From its very first day in circulation throughout various public hospitals, the ventilator developed by Mexico’s Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (Cidesi) began to garner bad reviews, mainly due to its alleged breach of the necessary characteristics for correct ventilatory mechanical support of patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome.

According to a report published in Reforma daily newspaper on Sunday, March 20, the ventilators do not work properly due to a flaw in their simple self-inflating bag design.

“We use them (in emergencies), giving a minimum of between 18 and 20 beats per minute, which are the times a person would breathe, physiologically,” said physician Daniel González, assigned to the Real San José Hospital in Zapopan, Jalisco.

“But in a patient who has hypoxia or decreased circulating oxygen, hypoxemia, this type of device really It’s not going to do us any good. It does not increase the oxygen pressure for that type of patient.”

The doctor went on to say that with “a covid patient, who has restricted oxygen flow,” the Ehécatl 4T ventilator is “of no real value.”

Internist José Antonio Ybarra from Mexico’s Regional General Hospital 72, agreed, saying that an extremely important function of mechanical ventilation is being able to adequately monitor air volumes and pressures, and to prevent potential damage to the patient’s lungs.

“In the Ehécatl 4T, the mechanism is through a bag with a reservoir, meaning proper monitoring of pressures and volumes cannot be done in an exact or reliable way, and that is why the use of these devices is dangerous,” he said.

“When you have a seriously ill patient with covid, you need to handle an inspired fraction of 100 percent oxygen. The Ehécatl 4T cannot be properly programmed for that.”

Ybarra went on to say that that the Ehécatl 4T “is nothing more than a bag, which is there crushing the mechanical system.”

According to Cidesi, the Ehécatl 4T was designed to operate on “a microprocessor control system to define the magnitude and speed of the pressure applied to a self-inflating bag.”

Notwithstanding, there is a major discrepancy between what the creators of the Ehécatl 4T maintain it can do and what medical specialists have witnessed in practice.

Moreover, many of the nation’s public physicians have insisted that very few of the ventilators were ever delivered to their respective hospitals.

Mexico’s Institute for Health and Wellbeing (Insabi) promised to deliver 318 of these devices to 30 public hospital units nationwide, but as of November, the delivery of 103 Ehécatl 4T ventilators was still pending in two Mexico City hospitals: 30 in La Villa and 73 for Topilejo, according to the government’s own data..

Meanwhile, 150 Ehécatl 4T ventilators were given to 33 hospitals in 16 Cuban provinces as a donation by Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE).

And 32 Ehécatl ventilators are, according to government information, in a state-run central warehouse awaiting delivery to Mexican hospitals.

During the public presentation of the Ehécatl 4T ventilator on July 14, 2020, Conacyt said that the cost of each ventilator would be 137,000 pesos, but in the end, each Ehécatl 4T ventilator cost 777,724 pesos to produce, nearly three times as much as was predicted.


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