cpap patient in maskA breathing aid that can help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care has been created in under a week.

University College London engineers worked with clinicians at UCLH and Mercedes Formula One to build the device, which delivers oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are already used in hospitals but are in short supply.

China and Italy used them to help Covid-19 patients.

Forty of the new devices have been delivered to ULCH and to three other London hospitals. If trials go well, up to 1,000 of the CPAP machines can be produced per day by Mercedes-AMG-HPP, beginning in a week's time.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has already given its approval for their use.

Ventilator consortium

Meanwhile a consortium of UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses in the UK has come together to produce medical ventilators for the NHS.

The "VentilatorChallengeUK" consortium includes Airbus, BAE Systems, Ford, Rolls-Royce and Siemens.

Companies in the consortium have received orders for more than 10,000 ventilators from the government, although MHRA approval is still pending.

Production is due to begin next week.

Dick Elsy, chief executive of High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: "This consortium brings together some of the most innovative companies in the world.

"They are working together with incredible determination and energy to scale up production of much-needed ventilators and combat a virus that is affecting people in many countries."

Rapid response

Prof Rebecca Shipley, Director of UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, told the BBC: "Normally medical device development would take years but we've done that in days because we went back to a simple existing device and "reverse engineered" it in order to be able to produce them quickly and at scale."

Reverse engineering means they took apart an existing off-patent CPAP device, copied and improved the design and adapted it for mass production.

Early reports from Lombardy in Italy suggest about 50% of patients given CPAP have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation.

UCLH critical care consultant Prof Mervyn Singer said: "These devices are a halfway house between a simple oxygen mask and invasive mechanical ventilation which requires patients to be sedated.

"They will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill."

 

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