Breathing aids co-developed by Formula One engine manufacturer Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains to keep Covid-19 patients out of intensive care have been approved for use by the NHS.
Engineers from Mercedes AMG HPP have been working round the clock since March 18 with University College London mechanical engineers and clinicians at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) to reverse-engineer a breathing aid that can be made in its thousands.
Known as the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, the devices have already been widely used in Italy and China to help Covid-19 hospital patients with serious lung infections breathe more easily when oxygen on its own isn’t enough, avoiding the need for invasive mechanical ventilation.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has now recommended them for use, and 100 are to be sent to UCLH for it to use in clinical trials, with a swift roll-out to hospitals to follow.
Professor Mervyn Singer, UCLH critical care consultant, said: ‘These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill.
‘While they will be tested at UCLH first, we hope they will make a real difference to hospitals across the UK by reducing demand on intensive care staff and beds, as well as helping patients recover without the need for more invasive ventilation.’
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘The essential and extraordinary work of this consortium will offer a beacon of hope to our NHS and all of society, and is a shining example of how the wider automotive and other manufacturing sectors can help in this time of crisis.
‘The entire sector stands ready to help the national effort in every way possible, from production of critical medical equipment to supporting delivery of essential supplies, maintaining emergency service vehicles and providing transport for key workers to support the most vulnerable in our communities.’
Nigel Stein, Automotive Council chairman, said: ‘This announcement is a welcome boost for the country at this critical time and shows what can be achieved when government and industry work together.
‘Such collaboration has helped make this vital sector globally competitive, with a highly skilled, dedicated and productive workforce that will be essential to getting the economy back on its feet once this crisis is over.’
Meanwhile, in the USA, President Trump has ordered General Motors to build ventilators for use by Covid-19 patients.