Many companies, agencies, and universities have stepped forward to help build ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been shortages of these breathing apparatuses in hospitals around the world, and it's been impressive to see how quickly engineers and developers have managed to create their own versions.
NASA's JPL-Caltech team is one such group of people who designed and created an emergency ventilator that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Now, NASA is saying that it will license its ventilator for free to manufacturers during the pandemic.
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NASA's high-pressure ventilator went through a fast-track emergency use authorization lane for its FDA approval, and now NASA is looking for a partner in the medical industry to manufacture the device. The agency has said that it will license its technology on a royalty-free basis while the pandemic is ongoing.
"Now that we have a design, we're working to pass the baton to the medical community, and ultimately patients, as quickly as possible," said Fred Farina, chief innovation and corporate partnerships officer at Caltech.
NASA's ventilator can be built faster and maintained more easily than other traditional ventilators. It has fewer parts, all of which are available through existing supply chains, and can be modified to be used in field hospitals. The device can last between three to four months, so it's not a replacement for current hospital ventilators, but it would be of great assistance during the current shortages.
NASA doesn't typically focus on medical equipment, however, a number of the agency's engineers voiced their desire to use their skills during the pandemic, and the result is fantastic.
"This ventilator is one of the countless examples of how taxpayer investments in space exploration — the skills, expertise, and knowledge collected over decades of pushing boundaries and achieving firsts for humanity — translate into advancements that improve life on Earth," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.