Ventilators are a big part of the fight against COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus pandemic that’s sweeping the globe. Although 80% of people with COVID-19 recover without requiring hospital treatment, one person in five becomes seriously ill and needs hospital care, per the World Health Organization. If the virus causes damage to the lungs, it becomes harder to breathe and the body’s oxygen levels fall.
A ventilator is used to push air and increased levels of oxygen into the lungs — basically, it takes over the body’s breathing process to give the patient a chance to recover from the infection. But there’s a problem — there aren’t enough ventilators to meet demand, and world leaders are calling on private companies to produce these crucial machines.
In the U.K., Dyson has designed and built what it calls a completely new ventilator, named the CoVent. The lifesaving device was created in just 10 days, leveraging Dyson’s already-optimized digital motor technology and expertise about air movement.
In a letter to his employees, shared with media outlets such as CNN, billionaire inventor James Dyson, best known for his company’s vacuum cleaners, hand dryers and hair styling appliances, said he had received an order from the U.K. government for 10,000 ventilators to be used by the country’s National Health Service (NHS). Dyson also wrote that he would donate 5,000 of the machines to other countries to help treat COVID-19 patients.
“This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume,” Dyson wrote, adding that the new ventilator has been designed to “address the specific needs” of coronavirus patients. “The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time. The race is now on to get it into production.”
According to U.K. news website Cambridge Independent, the CoVent is a bed-mounted, portable ventilator that can run on mains or battery power, which means it’s suitable for use in field hospitals if necessary.
The ventilator was created in response to a call by the government for help manufacturing more ventilators. However, any new ventilator will need regulatory approval, said a spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.
The company says the new ventilators will be ready by early April.
Here’s an image of the ventilator’s design, as posted by @CNN on Twitter.
Dyson has designed and built an entirely new ventilator, called the "CoVent," since founder James Dyson received a call 10 days ago from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume," he said https://t.co/PCNBAPQxpE
— CNN (@CNN) March 28, 2020
Dyson isn’t the only company working to help make up the shortfall in medical equipment. In the U.S., Ford is working with 3M and GE Healthcare to produce ventilators and protective gear. GM, Ford, Toyota and Tesla have also pledged to produce ventilators, shutting down factories in order to do so. Also, Gap is making masks and scrubs for healthcare workers.
Meanwhile, it’s taken less than a week for a team of engineers from University College London and Mercedes Formula One to create a breathing aid designed to help keep COVID-19 patients out of intensive care. The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device delivers oxygen to the lungs and helps keep patients off ventilators. The device has already been approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and if trials go well Mercedes-AMG-HPP has the capacity to produce up to 1,000 of them per day.
“Normally medical device development would take years but we’ve done that in days because we went back to a simple existing device and ‘reverse engineered’ it in order to be able to produce them quickly and at scale,” Professor Rebecca Shipley, director of UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, told the BBC.
It’s uplifting to see so much great innovation coming forth to save people’s lives!