NASA Engineers Built This COVID Ventilator in 37 Days, And it Has Already Passed a Key Test

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As NASA says, they usually build spacecrafts and not medical devices. But as it turns out, when they do decide to make one, they do a rather fine job of it. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has developed a ventilator as the world struggles to control the COVID, or Coronavirus Pandemic. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s new ventilator is called VITAL, which stands for Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally.

NASA says that VITAL can be used to free up the traditional ventilators for patients with more severe COVID cases in the US. "We specialize in spacecraft, not medical-device manufacturing," said JPL Director Michael Watkins. "But excellent engineering, rigorous testing and rapid prototyping are some of our specialties. When people at JPL realized they might have what it takes to support the medical community and the broader community, they felt it was their duty to share their ingenuity, expertise and drive."

VITAL has a design that allows flexibility of use, which makes it relevant for temporary hospitals, health facilities that may already be running short of medical equipment and also for first responders, for instance.

In fact, VITAL has passed a key test at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, ahead of the process for approvals by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "We were very pleased with the results of the testing we performed in our high-fidelity human simulation lab," said Dr. Matthew Levin, Director of Innovation for the Human Simulation Lab and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Preoperative and Pain Medicine, and Genetics and Genomics Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine. "The NASA prototype performed as expected under a wide variety of simulated patient conditions. The team feels confident that the VITAL ventilator will be able to safely ventilate patients suffering from COVID-19 both here in the United States and throughout the world."

NASA says that VITAL can be built quickly and requires less maintenance than a traditional ventilator. They say that VITAL requires patients to be sedated and an oxygen tube inserted into their airway to breathe. The new device wouldn't replace current hospital ventilators, which can last years and are built to address a broader range of medical issues. Instead, VITAL is intended to last three to four months and is specifically tailored for COVID-19 patients.