F1 Team, University Make New U.K. Breathing Aid in Virus Fight

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Engineers from a Mercedes Formula 1 team and University College London have helped to develop a new breathing aid for coronavirus patients.

Put together by a group from Mercedes-AMG HPP, University College London Hospitals and University College London, the devices will cut the need for invasive mechanical ventilation among patients, according to a statement from UCL. The aid has been approved for use in the U.K. National Health Service.

“These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill,” said Mervyn Singer, a critical care consultant at UCLH.

The U.K. team took an off-patent device and improved it to create a model suitable for mass production, according to Tim Baker of UCL. “We were able to reduce a process that could take years down to a matter of days,” he said.

Known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP, such devices have been used extensively in hospitals in China and Italy to help coronavirus patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily when oxygen alone is insufficient.

Britain, like many other countries, is struggling with a shortage of life-saving ventilators as the deadly virus spreads. U.K. manufacturers have warned they might need months to respond to the government’s call to ramp up production.

The NHS has less than a third of the ventilators it needs. The makers of the new device said 100 instruments will be delivered to UCLH for clinical trials, with plans for a rapid roll-out to hospitals.

— With assistance by Alex Morales

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