NASA has developed and successfully tested a new, high-pressure ventilator tailored to COVID-19 patients. It built it in just 37 days.
It said the device, called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), can be built faster and maintained more easily than a traditional ventilator. NASA says it uses fewer parts, with components available in existing supply chains and it can be modified for high-capacity field hospitals around the world.
Director Michael Watkins at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California said "We specialize in spacecraft, not medical-device manufacturing. But excellent engineering, rigorous testing and rapid prototyping are some of our specialties. When people at JPL realized they might have what it takes to support the medical community and the broader community, they felt it was their duty to share their ingenuity, expertise and drive."
The space agency said VITAL is only intended to last three to four months. It's specifically for COVID-19 patients, who don't require a more advanced ventilator.
NASA is asking the FDA for an expedited approval for the devices. Meanwhile, it says it sent the prototype to "a gold-standard medical facility" for more testing.
Commercial medical manufacturers are being contacted to produce the ventilators.