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COVID-19 breathing aid

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a severe shortage of medical equipment used to help patients breathe. In response, a group of engineers from UCL and Formula One Mercedes-AMG HPP, teamed up to create a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, to support patients breathing when critically ill.

This machine, similar to those commonly used to treat sleep apnea, can support patients with severe breathing problems, freeing up ventilators for the most critically ill. Unlike mechanical ventilation, CPAP doesn’t require a tube to be inserted into the patient’s windpipe. Instead, continuous air pressure (slightly higher than normal atmospheric pressure) applied through a face mask keeps the airways open and provides the patient with oxygen-enriched air. This reduces the work they have to do to breathe without requiring them to be sedated.

The team has pulled off the task of moving from reverse-engineering an original product and producing a new design, through testing and regulatory approval to full-scale production in under 10 days. Within one month, 10,000 devices have been delivered to meet the UK government target, with Mercedes repurposing its entire facility in Brixworth, Northampton to produce 1,000 a day. The designs and manufacturing instructions have now been released, at no cost, to governments, manufacturers, academics and health experts around the world. Within a week they had been shared with more than 1,300 teams in 25 countries.

Source: World Economic Forum, 23 April 2020. Read the full article.

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