The FDA granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to a ventilator developed by NASA that is tailored for treating patients with COVID-19.
NASA engineers developed the “ventilator intervention technology accessible locally” device, called “VITAL,” at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California in an effort to free up traditional ventilators for use on patients with the most severe coronavirus symptoms.
Last week, the device passed a critical test at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York before joining the EUA list of authorized ventilators, ventilator tubing connectors and ventilator accessories compiled by the FDA for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fighting the virus and treating patients during this unprecedented global pandemic requires innovative approaches and action,” FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a news release. “It also takes an all hands-on deck approach, as demonstrated by the NASA engineers who used their expertise in spacecraft to design a ventilator tailored for very ill coronavirus patients. This example shows what we can do when everyone works together to fight COVID-19.”
NASA touts VITAL as capable of being built faster and maintained more easily than a traditional ventilator. The device includes fewer parts than other ventilators, many of which NASA says are available through existing supply chains. Its design can be modified for use in field hospitals set up in high-capacity facilities.
While NASA believes VITAL can be useful in the fight against coronavirus, much like other alternative ventilator options touted recently, it would not replace current hospital ventilators that can last years and are designed to address a wider range of issues. VITAL is intended to last for three or four months with specific tailoring for COVID-19 patients.
“This FDA authorization is a key milestone in a process that exemplifies the best of what government can do in a time of crisis,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “This ventilator is one of countless examples of how taxpayer investments in space exploration – the skills, expertise and knowledge collected over decades of pushing boundaries and achieving firsts for humanity – translate into advancements that improve life on earth.”