UK scientists develop a breathing aid as alternative to ventilator
A team of engineers and clinicians in the United Kingdom produced the breathing aid, known as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure system (CPAP machine), in response to the country’s shortage of ventilators for its COVID-19 patients. The device delivers oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator. The researchers say that 40 prototypes are now being tested in London hospitals after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved its use.
“Normally medical device development would take years but we’ve done that in days because we went back to a simple existing device and ‘reverse engineered’ it in order to be able to produce them quickly and at scale,” said Professor Rebecca Shipley, director of the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering.
CPAPs are a halfway house between a simple oxygen mask and invasive mechanical ventilation that requires heavy sedation. The device pushes a steady flow of air-oxygen into the mouth and nose of a patient. This is done at pressure which allows lungs remain open and so it increases the amount of oxygen entering them. This will also reduce the effort needed to breathe in.
If the trials are successful, the United Kingdom will produce up to 1000 such devices per day.