Coronavirus testing kits and ventilators, are they the difference between life and death?

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 27, 2020, 12.06 AM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

A preventive shot can help save millions of lives that are at risk right now. But how vital are tests and ventilators?

The world is scrambling to find a vaccine for the Wuhan

coronavirus and amid all this, we are constantly hearing "we don't have enough test kits" and "we don't have enough ventilators".

A preventive shot can help save millions of lives that are at risk right now. But how vital are tests and ventilators?

If someone is tested at an early stage and got ventilator support, will the patient survive the virus?

Are tests and ventilators the difference between life and death?

First, the coronavirus tests.

COVID-19 tests involve taking a swab from the patient's nose and throat. The sample is then checked for the genetic footprint of the virus.

Can an early test help save someone's life? that totally depends on the condition of the patient.

According to reports, 85% of the coronavirus patients recover without any serious medical assistance.

It is the remaining 15% for whom the coronavirus battle becomes difficult.

If a patient already has other health problems for example hypertension, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or cancer.

Then even an early test may not be able to increase his or her survival chances.

A test is not the difference between life and death.

Where a test really helps is in decreasing the human-to-human transmission and decreasing the number of positive cases.

The role of ventilators

Will more ventilators translate into a drop in the coronavirus mortality rate?

WION posed this question to experts and their answer was no.

Lets first understand the role of ventilators.

The machine has two important functions, it blows oxygen into human lungs and expels carbon dioxide.

Basically, a ventilator does what our lungs do. They are required in treating a coronavirus patient because it impairs our respiratory system.

Coronavirus patients have difficulty breathing due to which most of the patients are given artificial oxygen supply.

But in some cases, patients develop pneumonia in the lungs while some also suffer a severe acute respiratory failure.

It is in these cases, that ventilators are needed.

These machines act as a life support system by providing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide but ventilators cannot guarantee life.

A patient's chances of survival depend on the condition of his or her body.

For example, in some cases, coronavirus triggered multiple organ dysfunctions a ventilator cannot do much in those scenarios.

The need of the hour is not just ventilators and testing kits but also manpower, experienced doctors, nurses, and technical staff.