NASA Team Creates Special Ventilators For COVID-19 Patients In 37 Days

There's a lot of people worth thanking in the middle of this pandemic, from front-line medical staff to essential workers making sure we can still buy necessary supplies, but let us not forget a third group: engineers who are busy making scientific innovations to help save lives.

A team of engineers at NASA have created a high-pressure ventilator prototype made specifically for COVID-19 patients.


The prototype is called VITAL, or Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally. The current prototype has been succeeding at every test, and they're hoping for fast-track approval within the next few days so it can be distributed.

This ventilator was designed to free up traditional ventilators that can, in turn, be given to patients with more severe cases.


Though VITAL works like traditional ventilators, in which a sedated patient breathes with the help of an oxygen tube, it only lasts three or four months. Compare that to the lifespan of standard ventilators, which can last years as well as be used on patients with other medical issues, and it makes sense why they chose this project with this goal.

VITAL specifically provides more oxygen at higher pressures.

Unsplash | Natanael Melchor

Dr. J.D. Polk, NASA's chief health and medical officer, spoke in a statement regarding VITAL, "Intensive care units are seeing Covid-19 patients who require highly dynamic ventilators. The intention with VITAL is to decrease the likelihood patients will get to that advanced stage of the disease and require more advanced ventilator assistance."

They also kept development in mind.

Unsplash | Arseny Togulev

VITAL can be built quickly with fewer parts, those parts are readily available in the current supply chain, and it won't compete with the supply chain for normal ventilators either.

It's also incredibly flexible and has easy maintenance, so it can be used outside of hospital settings or at field hospitals.

It wasn't easy to do in such a short time, though.


It was a long 37 days, filled with quick, hard work and constant communication. There were no days off, and problems had to be dealt with immediately. They didn't take a single break when it came to this project, which paid off in speed and quality of development and testing.

So let's take a moment to thank engineers like Stacey Boland for rising up during this troubling time and making a real difference with their innovations.


"I am not a medical device engineer, but when I hear someone on the front line needs something, I want them to have it," Boland said. "We want to be there for them. It's been a blessing and a privilege to have something so challenging and yet so relevant to be working on."

h/t: CNN