A breathing aid is going to be created that can help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care.
International news agency BBC reported that University College London engineers worked with clinicians at UCLH and Mercedes Formula One to build the breathing aid device, which delivers oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are already used in China and Italy for Covid-19 patients. But they are short in supply.
Forty of the new devices have been delivered to ULCH and three other London hospitals. Mercedes-AMG-HPP can produce up to 1,000 of the CPAP machines per day if trials go well. The company will begin in a week.
The company has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Professor 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 to be able to produce them quickly and at scale.”
Reverse engineering implies that they took apart a current off-patent CPAP device, copied, developed the design and adapted it for production on a large scale.
Early reports from Lombardy in Italy suggest around 50% of patients given CPAP have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation.
UCLH critical care consultant Professor 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.”
The machine pushes a steady-flow if air-oxygen mix into the mouth and nose of the patients.
The process is performed at a pressure which means the lungs remain open and the amount of oxygen is increased.
This reduces the effort needed to breathe in, especially when the alveoli – the air sacs in the lungs – have collapsed as a result of Covid-19.