NASA’s new COVID-19 ventilator is to be manufactured across the US

In just 37 days, an innovative team of NASA scientists have developed a new COVID-19 ventilator tailored to reduce the strain on supply chains.

The Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally (VITAL) has been developed by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, USA. The goal of this project is to relieve some of the strain on US hospitals as ventilator shortages continue.

The FDA has recently approved VITAL under their Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), a fast-track approval process that takes days rather than years.

What are the key characteristics of VITAL?

NASA’s COVID-19 ventilator can be built faster and maintained more easily than a traditional ventilator, and is composed of far fewer parts, many of which are currently available to manufacturers through existing supply chains.

When speaking to Innovation News Network, Leon Alkalai, a member of NASA’s VITAL leadership team, attributed the success of the device to “very talented engineering staff focused on solving a problem.”

Another factor contributing to VITAL’s success is that the device “does not compete with legacy ventilators and it avoids the traditional medical device supply chain,” meaning that developers can bypass the shortages affecting the production of other ventilators.

Like all ventilators, VITAL requires patients to be sedated and an oxygen tube inserted into their airway to breathe. This new device is not designed to replace current hospital ventilators, which can last years and are built to address a broader range of medical issues. VITAL is intended to last three to four months and is specifically tailored for COVID-19 patients. Alkalai continued to say that VITAL is “much cheaper and faster to build as it does not have all the functionality of a full blown ventilator used in the ICU.”

Manufacturing VITAL

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has selected eight US manufacturers to make a VITAL for COVID-19 patients. The US companies selected for licenses are:

  • 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

“The VITAL team is very excited to see their technology licensed. Our hope is to have this technology reach across the world and provide an additional source of solutions to deal with the on-going COVID-19 crisis,” said Alkalai.

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