UK scientists have been awarded a six-figure funding package to develop a low-cost ventilator to help patients in low and middle-income countries suffering from severe respiratory problems due to COVID-19.
A team of scientists aims to produce and test plans for the creation of an affordable, reliable and easy-to-operate ventilator which does not rely so heavily on compressed gases and mains electricity supply.
The team is coordinated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory.
It is anticipated that these plans will be used by a variety of manufacturing groups across the world, reducing the need for expensive transportation and maintenance.
Project lead Ian Lazarus, head of the technology department at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “I am proud to be leading this team, in which we have brought together experts from medicine, science, engineering and knowledge transfer with a shared goal to make resilient high-quality ventilators available in areas of the world which currently don’t have enough of them.
“We look forward to redeploying skills that normally underpin science research into this different and very necessary field, working with medical experts in both the UK and Brazil.
“Together we hope to make a positive impact in the current fight against COVID-19 and afterwards in the treatment of other respiratory conditions in countries where ventilators are not as readily available as they are here in the UK.”
The £760,000 funding for the prototypes has been awarded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
This project, known as the High-Performance Low-Cost Ventilator (HPLV), builds on the original designs for the High Energy physics Ventilator (HEV).
The HEV was developed at CERN by a group of institutes from the LHCb Collaboration.
The HEV prototype design, which was developed using research techniques routinely used at CERN, will now be re-engineered to make it ready for regulatory approval and for manufacture.
HEV team leader Paula Collins, part of the LHCb experiment at CERN and a CERN physicist, said: “HEV was born at CERN during the first lockdown thanks to a dedicated team of physicists and engineers who adapted their expertise to fight the pandemic.
“We are grateful to our international team of medical advisers who helped us to orient the HEV design towards the needs of low and middle-income countries, and to build a ventilator focused on quality and patient comfort.
“We warmly welcome the HPLV initiative, which will build upon the success of HEV and we look forward to working together with the outstanding HPLV team for our common humanitarian goal.”