NASA built a COVID-19 ventilator in just 37 days
“We know how to land on the moon and Mars, but building a medical device is new,” quipped NASA, as it unveiled a ventilator designed to help coronavirus patients.
The new system dubbed VITAL – Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally – was created in just 37-days, the space agency said.
The ventilator has now passed all critical medical tests, and will be fast-tracked to the approval phase early next week.
“We’re rocket scientists and engineers, we know how to land on the moon and Mars,” said Leon Alkalai, a technical fellow at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
“But building a medical device is new. We were humbled by that challenge to do something we’ve never done before for a good cause.”
The prototype was shown to Donald Trump this Friday. While it is very similar to traditional ventilators, NASA’s version is more flexible and easier to maintain. And because it has a lifespan of three months (not several years), it’s cheaper to build.
The next stage is for NASA to find some manufacturers so they can scale up production.
“It goes against our culture to do something quickly in a domain where we’re not experts,” added Dr Alkalai. “But it fits with the JPL mantra: ‘Dare Mighty Things’.”
Esquire now has a newsletter – sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox.