Weeks ago, NASA revealed that it was working on a special ventilator designed specifically for COVID-19 patients. The prototype was created by NASA engineers in a little over a month and soon after was granted an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. Now, only a couple of weeks later, the space agency is back with an update: it has selected eight US companies to make the ventilators.
The NASA-designed medical device is called Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally — aka, VITAL. Unlike traditional ventilators, VITAL was designed specifically to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients, a relatively small percentage of whom require a ventilator for assisted breathing.
One key aspect of VITAL is its compact nature and simplistic design — it requires only 1/7th of the components found in traditional ventilators. As well, the team designed VITAL to utilize the components that suppliers already have available, making it cheaper and faster to build these ventilators.
Among other things, the design is ‘flexible,’ enabling it to be used in field hospitals and other similar situations. By acquiring these ventilators, NASA says that hospitals will be able to save their traditional ventilators for the most severe COVID-19 cases, increasing patients’ odds of survival.
NASA won’t be manufacturing the ventilators itself; instead, Caltech, which manages NASA’s JPL and owns the VITAL design and software, is giving the license for free to the following eight companies:
– Vacumed, a division of Vacumetrics, Inc. in Ventura, California
– Stark Industries, LLC in Columbus, Ohio
– MVent, LLC, a division of Minnetronix Medical, in St. Paul, Minnesota
– iButtonLink, LLC in Whitewater, Wisconsin
– Evo Design, LLC in Watertown, Connecticut
– DesignPlex Biomedical, LLC in Fort Worth, Texas
– ATRON Group, LLC in Dallas
– Pro-Dex, Inc. in Irvine, California
NASA says that JPL is also currently evaluating manufacturers located outside of the US.