shine on wrote:I thought that a ventilator made things worse and should be avoided? ...
I'm not sure that is a totally accurate description of the situation? If the disease develops to the very advanced stage and you are not put on a ventilator then you will die. If you are put on a ventilator there is a chance that you will live. The younger and fitter you are the higher the chance that you will live. For older people and those with serious underlying conditions that chance decreases quite markedly.
The problem is not the ventilator itself but the nature of the advanced form of the disease. People with paralysis, for example, can survive on forced ventilation for very extended periods but in that case the pressure set on the ventilator is just normal. The ventilator is simply replacing the mechanical bodily function of breathing in and out.
In the case of COVID-19, your lungs are so badly affected that you simply cannot absorb sufficient oxygen without ventilation. If you can't absorb enough oxygen your organs shut down from lack of oxygen supply and you die of multiple organ failure. In order to raise the blood oxygen level, however, you require a very high ventilation pressure and that runs the risk of rupturing the alveoli in the lungs, i.e. the small air sacks where oxygen passes into the blood stream. If they rupture you drown in your own blood. It is a very delicate balance to get the pressure right.