Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for ventilators around the world has increased. And unfortunately, the supply hasn't been able to keep up as many healthcare facilities have resorted to improvising their own ventilators, or making do with what they have. This has made it very hard for medical professionals to deliver the needed care coronavirus patients need. Tech companies and private institutions have stepped up. 


(Photo : Screenshot from: Jet Propulsion Laboratory Official YouTube Page)

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Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally (VITAL)

Fortunately, a new high-pressure ventilator has been developed by engineers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which is designed to treat COVID-19 patients. These new ventilators have passed a critical test at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, which is where the epicenter of the virus is located in the United States.

According to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's statement, the device is called VITAL or the Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally and was created at the JPL in Southern California. It is their hope to reduce device shortages when it comes to the supply of traditional ventilators. VITAL can be used in patients with severe respiratory cases.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director, Michael Watkins said that "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."

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Medical experts are very 'pleased' with the results

NASA is now seeking expedited approval from the Food and Drug Administration for VITAL via an emergency use authorization, which is the fast-tracking process of approval created for crisis situations such as the pandemic. This only takes days rather than years.

JPL has dispatched a prototype of the machine to the Human Simulation Lab in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine in New York for more testing.

VITAL can be built faster and can be maintained easily compared to a traditional ventilator that hospitals have been using. These machines are also composed of fewer parts, and most of them are available to manufacturers through existing supply chains.

Matthew Levin, the director of innovation for the human simulation lab and associate professor of anesthesiology at the Icahn School of Medicine, has stated that "We were very pleased with the results of the testing we performed in our high-fidelity human simulation lab. The NASA prototype performed as expected under a wide variety of simulated patient conditions. The team feels confident that the VITAL ventilator will be able to safely ventilate patients suffering from COVID-19 both here in the United States and throughout the world."

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