NASA’s coronavirus ventilator is going into production


Back in April, in the heart of the coronavirus pandemic, NASA stepped up to help by developing a ventilator specifically designed for COVID-19 patients. The device was nicknamed VITAL (short for Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally) and it was meant to be a low-cost, easy-to-build piece of life-saving medical hardware. Now, as the pandemic continues to rage on, the space agency has announced the companies that have been chosen to manufacture the VITAL ventilators.

In a new blog post, NASA reveals that over 100 companies submitted applications to be chosen as manufacturers for VITAL. After narrowing down the dozens of options, the Office of Technology and Corporate Partnerships at Caltech, which manages NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and holds the patents on VITAL, selected a total of eight companies as manufacturing partners.

These are the companies that made the cut, per NASA:

  • Vacumed, a division of Vacumetrics, Inc. in Ventura, California
  • Stark Industries, LLC in Columbus, Ohio
  • MVent, LLC, a division of Minnetronix Medical, in St. Paul, Minnesota
  • iButtonLink, LLC in Whitewater, Wisconsin
  • Evo Design, LLC in Watertown, Connecticut
  • DesignPlex Biomedical, LLC in Fort Worth, Texas
  • ATRON Group, LLC in Dallas
  • Pro-Dex, Inc. in Irvine, California

“The VITAL team is very excited to see their technology licensed,” Leon Alkalai of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and VITAL team member, said in a statement. “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.”

The ventilator has proven itself capable of tackling the challenge that COVID-19 poses. It was tested by scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine and demonstrated its usefulness on a number of simulated patients.

“We were very pleased with the results of the testing we performed in our high-fidelity human simulation lab,” Dr. Matthew Levin, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Preoperative and Pain Medicine and Genetics and Genomics Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine previously said. “The NASA prototype performed as expected under a wide variety of simulated patient conditions. The team feels confident that the VITAL ventilator will be able to safely ventilate patients suffering from COVID-19 both here in the United States and throughout the world.”

A slightly tweaked version of the VITAL ventilator uses compressed air and could be made more widely available on a shorter time frame. The design for that device is currently awaiting approval by the FDA under Emergency Use Authorization, according to NASA.


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