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New life-saving breathing aid approved

31 March 2020

The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved a newly adapted breathing aid developed by University College London and Mercedes Formula One that will help keep coronavirus (COVID-19) patients out of intensive care.

The team of engineers and clinicians worked with regulatory guidance given by MHRA to build an adapted Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device.  The device bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and full ventilation by delivering a steady stream of oxygen and air to patients who are struggling to breathe.  It avoids the need for an invasive procedure and sedation in an intensive care unit that full ventilation requires.

CPAP devices are already used in hospitals but are in short supply. The collaboration between UCL and Mercedes enabled the device to be developed in 10 days.

Production commences this weekend to supply 10,000 CPAP units in hospitals from next week.

There are currently 8,000 ventilators deployed in NHS hospitals – but more are needed to cope with the pandemic. The government has already announced it is buying more ventilators from abroad, including EU nations, as well as  developing new models at home.

Image: A volunteer patient demonstrates the continuous positive airway pressure breathing aid. Photograph: James Tye/UCL/PA