The Crisis in India and Our Response

Dear Friend of Public Invention,

As you probably know, there is a terrible humanitarian crisis in India right now. The COVID-19 disease is rampant, the medical system is overwhelmed, it appears that the infections may actually be increasing, and deaths and infections are almost certainly being undercounted. I would like to tell you that Public Invention is taking meaningful action. As you saw in a previous post, we have in fact sent two VentMons to a ventilator manufacturer in India who is making 12 ventilators a day and testing them with the VentMons. Ajit Lahori believes that, in that small sense, we are saving lives through the VentMon.

I wish we could do more. Our long-term goal is to build a complete open-source ecosystem of respiration devices. If that existed today, it could be making a difference. We in fact have a functioning prototype of an Oxygen Concentrator, called “the Ox”, thanks to Ben Coombs. If the Ox were ready to be manufactured, it could potentially be making a difference. But wishful thinking will not make it so; it is not ready.

Although I am open to other suggestions, I believe that our best course of action is to “festina lente” — to make haste slowly. We are attempting to chart a steady course that will give the people of India the ability to manufacture their own devices. If we rush this, we will harm more people than we help.

I will pray for guidance, and keep an open mind. But the only answer I have so far is to keep doing what we are doing now, only more so.

We need SKILLED electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and computer programmers who can work at least 8 hours a week to help finish “the Ox” and PolyVent. If you can volunteer and want to help use build a ventilator or an oxygen concentrator, please contact me at <>.

We also need money. We are down to $15,000 and have spent the grants and most of the gifts we received last year, although “the Ox” just won a $1800 micro-grant from JOGL (1500 Euros). I intend to apply for a $200,000 grant around building a complete, free respiration ecosystem (Freespireco), but who knows how long it will take that to get funded? So your gift now will give us the confidence to buy equipment for the Ox and PolyVent. Neither I, nor Ben Coombs of the Ox, nor Dr. Victor Suturin of PolyVent, nor any volunteer for Public Invention gets paid for their time or draws a salary. (We pay our part-time outreach coordinator, Rachel Carp.)

— Robert L. Read

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