NASA engineers have developed a new, easy-to-build high-pressure ventilator tailored specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. The device, called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), passed a critical test this week at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, an epicentre of COVID-19 in the US, NASA said. VITAL is designed to treat patients with milder symptoms, thereby keeping the country's limited supply of traditional ventilators available for patients with more severe COVID-19 symptoms.
  1. NASA is now seeking FDA approval for the device via an emergency use authorization, a fast-track approval process developed for crisis situations that takes just days rather than years.
  2. The NASA prototype performed as expected under a wide variety of simulated patient conditions.
  3. The team feels confident that the VITAL ventilator will be able to safely ventilate patients suffering from COVID-19 both here in the US and throughout the world.
  4. VITAL 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 potential manufacturers through existing supply chains.
  5. Its flexible design means it also can be modified for use in field hospitals being set up in convention centres, hotels, and other high-capacity facilities across the country and around the globe.
  6. Like all ventilators, VITAL requires patients to be sedated and an oxygen tube inserted into their airway to breathe.
  7. The new device wouldn't replace current hospital ventilators, which can last years and are built to address a broader range of medical issues.
  8. Instead, VITAL is intended to last three to four months and is specifically tailored for COVID-19 patients, according to NASA.