NASA's tiny COVID-19 ventilator is entering mass production in Brazil

The small VITAL respirator NASA developed and introduced earlier this year has entered mass production in Brazil, the space agency has announced. Standing for Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally, VITAL was developed specifically for use with COVID-19 patients and has since been licensed to 28 companies globally. One of them is finally about to start mass production.

NASA JPL designed the VITAL ventilator prototype and soon after introducing it, the Food and Drug Administration granted the product an emergency use authorization. Unlike traditional ventilators, VITAL is compact and designed for COVID-19 patients specifically. NASA's team designed two different versions of VITAL, one that is pneumatic and one that uses compressed air.

The model is simpler and cheaper to build than regular medical ventilators, and they use parts that are already commonly available through suppliers. This makes it possible for states and countries to build the ventilators more quickly and at lower costs, reserving the traditional ventilators for more severe cases, among other things.

NASA received more than 100 applications for a license to build and distribute the ventilator; thus far, it has given its permission to 28 of them. Of those, the first one is about to start mass production of the pneumatic version of the ventilator, using around 1/7th the number of components as traditional alternatives.

According to the space agency, the manufacturer is Russer working with a non-profit called CIMATEC. The approval to mass-produce the VITAL ventilator was granted by Brazil's equivalent of the FDA, which announced the intention on August 24. This version of the ventilator will be called VIDA and made available for sale in Brazil.