Many firms and organizations across the world have responded to a possible, upcoming shortage of ventilators due to COVID-19. Recently, we've seen companies like Tesla, Maingear, and others, venture into the domain.
NASA too has been active in taking action in the fight against the global pandemic. Now, the space agency has made a ventilator that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat severe cases of COVID-19.
Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally, or VITAL for short, has been developed by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Compared to traditional ventilators, it is composed of fewer parts and houses materials that are readily available in supply chains, an idea that is similar to what Tesla has been doing by recycling automobile parts for use in its ventilator. While NASA claims that the product is easy to maintain, it won't be replacing traditional ventilators because VITAL is essentially a stopgap measure and is built to last around three to four months.
VITAL was developed in a period of 37 days courtesy of a fast-track program. On April 21, it was tested successfully on a human patient simulator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Currently, NASA is looking for a medical industry partner to manufacture the device with a royalty-free license during the pandemic.
"It's been exhilarating coming up with VITAL's design. Now that we have FDA approval, we're looking forward to seeing companies license this technology and share it with the rest of the world," said Michelle Easter, an engineer at JPL who worked on developing the device.