The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has given licences to three Indian companies for the manufacturing of its ventilators for critical COVID-19 patients. Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd, Bharat Forge Ltd and Medha Servo Drives Pvt Ltd are these three companies, the space organisation said in a statement on 29 May.
NASA has selected, besides the Indian firms, 18 other companies, which include eight American and three Brazilian enterprises to manufacture the critical breathing devices.
NASA developed the ventilator especially for COVID patients at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JLP) in Southern California. The JPL engineers designed the special Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally (VITAL) in less than two months. The space agency received ‘Emergency Use Authorisation’ from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 30 April.
The equipment uses one-seventh the parts of a conventional ventilator, as it utilises parts already available in supply chains, NASA said. The high-pressure ventilator offers a simple, affordable choice to treat critical patients while sparing traditional ventilators for those with the most severe COVID-19 symptoms. Its flexible design means it can be modified as well — so that it can be used in field hospitals, a statement from NASA read.
“The VITAL team is very excited to see their technology licenced,” said Leon Alkalai, manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Partnerships. “Our hope is to have this technology reach across the world and provide an additional source of solutions to deal with the on-going COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
NASA said it developed VITAL with input from doctors and medical device manufacturers. The Human Simulation Lab in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Mount Sinai tested a prototype of the JPL device successfully on 23 April.
It recently tested a modified design, which uses compressed air and is deployable at a variety of hospitals, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Simulation Center.
Using a high-fidelity lung simulator, the facility tested about 20 different ventilator settings, which represented many different scenarios that could be seen in critically ill patients in an intensive care unit, the statement read. “VITAL performed well in simulation testing with both precise and reproducible results,” said Dr Tisha Wang, clinical chief of the UCLA Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
“In addition, the setup and operation of the ventilator was quick and user-friendly. The UCLA team commends JPL for actively contributing to the COVID-19 response and successfully addressing one of the key medical needs in the sickest group of patients,” a media statement said.