NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory develops COVID-19 prototype ventilator in 37 Days


LOS ANGELES (CBS News) — Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have joined the fight against the coronavirus in a unique way. A team from the space agency used their technical skills to develop a ventilator specifically for COVID-19 patients – in record time.

For scientists who specialize in spacecrafts – designing an earth-bound medical machine might be one of their most unusual creations yet.

“This was a complete departure we’re not a medical device company,” said Sarah Hovsepian, an employee at NASA-JPL.

She is part of the team behind Project VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally).

The group of NASA-JPL employees designed, built and tested a new type of ventilator – from scratch – in just 37 days.

It was an incredible feat for a socially distanced staff. A small group worked on the prototype in person – while the rest relied on video conferencing.

Combining the technical know-how of more than 100 people – remotely – was one of the most challenging parts of the job.

“And we were creating a new path for this new way of working, a new way of doing things and it was incredible how much we were able to accomplish in a short period of time,” said Hovsepian.

The prototype is only made of about 80 parts – and was designed to deliver more oxygen at higher pressure

Something doctors say is needed for many COVID-19 patients.

Testing at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York – has so far proven the project a success.

“We have the potential to save human lives, people that we might know, our neighbors, our families and that intensity, it’s amazing, it’s amazing,” said Michelle Easter with NASA-JPL.

A technological triumph at a time it’s needed the most.

NASA is now seeking emergency U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for their ventilator and speaking with manufacturing companies who are interested in producing it.

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