Engineers develop new, cheaper ventilator in weeks amid COVID-19 pandemic

A group of engineers from a gaggle of organizations developed a new type of manual ventilator to address the shortage of traditional ventilators plaguing the novel coronavirus pandemic. And those devices are now being distributed to public and private hospitals throughout New York City. 

After reading about challenges faced by overwhelmed Italian doctors with too many novel coronavirus patients to adequately treat, engineers from NewLab, 10XBeta, Boyce Technologies and Otherlab decided to take on their another challenge, developing a cheaper and more easily transportable respiratory device to distribute to hospitals in need. 

“We set out on a mission that put us all in, where the impossible wasn’t going to be allowed,” said Marcel Botha, CEO of 10xBeta. The Food and Drug Administration approved the Spiro Wave on Friday and costs about $3,300. A conventional ventilator can cost over $30,000. 

The Emergency Ventilator Response team worked with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which provided a $100,000 seed grant to adapt and create a prototype of the device, sourced hospitals to vet the Spiro Wave and offer regulatory support. The NYCEDC also offered the team a $ 10 million financial commitment before the product had been fully tested or designed. 

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit that manages philanthropic donations, is managing a fund of public and private donations which will be used to create grants to help manufacturers cover the cost of making the new ventilators. 

Boyce Technologies is working to ramp up its Spiro Wave production in order to create 500 devices a day while other members of the Emergency Ventilator Response team is searching for FDA registered medical device production facilities around the country and similar sites abroad to help with ventilator shortages across the globe.

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