In April, at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic, NASA stepped in to help developing a ventilator specifically designed for patients with COVID-19. The device was nicknamed VITAL (short for Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessly Locally) and was intended to be low-cost, easy-to-build, life-saving medical hardware. Now, as the pandemic continues, the space agency has announced the companies that have been chosen to manufacture the VITAL fans.
In a new blog post, NASA reveals that more than 100 companies submitted applications to be chosen as manufacturers of 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 owns the patents at VITAL, selected a total of eight companies as manufacturing partners.
These are the companies that made the cut, according to 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 its licensed technology,” said Leon Alkalai of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a member of the VITAL team, in a statement. “Our hope is that this technology will reach everyone and provide an additional source of solutions to deal with the current COVID-19 crisis.”
The fan has proven to be capable of meeting the challenge posed by COVID-19. It was tested by scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine and demonstrated its usefulness in several simulated patients.
“We are very pleased with the results of the tests we perform in our high-fidelity human simulation laboratory,” Dr. Matthew Levin, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Preoperative and Pain Medicine, and Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine . previously said. “The NASA prototype performed as expected in a wide variety of simulated patient conditions. The team is confident that the VITAL ventilator will be able to safely ventilate patients with COVID-19 both in the United States and around the world. “
A slightly modified version of the VITAL ventilator uses compressed air and could be more widely available in a shorter period of time. The design of that device is currently pending FDA approval under Emergency Use Authorization, according to NASA.