Dyson
Bed with ventilator

Work in Progress: Dyson’s Ventilator

April 15, 2020
Work is underway to develop and manufacture an entirely new design of ventilator.

“In the event of a severe influenza pandemic, the need for life-saving mechanical ventilation will far outstrip the ability to provide it.”

That foreboding opening line, clipped from a paper published in the journal Health Care Analysis back in 2011, might have been written today.

Globally, the growing number of patients critically ill with the coronavirus has escalated the need for ventilators to at least 10 times what’s available around the world, according to estimates. The United States has about 200,000 ventilators, yet 960,000 patients would need ventilator support in the U.S., according to The Society of Critical Care Medicine. 

With the clock ticking, governments have ordered manufacturers to boost production, while rival ventilator makers acquiesce by peer-reviewing designs to accelerate efforts.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is on the mend after contracting COVID-19, had placed an order for 10,000 ventilator units from Dyson, the company best known for its vacuum cleaners.

Dyson’s founder, James Dyson, confirmed the order in an email to his employees. “Since I received a call from Boris Johnson ten days ago, we have refocused resources at Dyson, and worked with TTP, The Technology Partnership, to design and build an entirely new ventilator, The CoVent,” Dyson wrote.

The design and manufacture of a new ventilator would typically take many years and require complex components, but the Dyson-TTP team have condensed design and manufacture to a matter of weeks. 

The ventilator meets clinician-led specifications to address the explicit clinical needs of COVID-19 patients, according to Dyson’s press office. The U.K. Government requested a design for a ventilator that was safe, effective, efficient in conserving oxygen, easy to use, bed-mounted, portable and not needing a fixed air supply.

Dyson and TTP answered the call with a bed-mounted, portable ventilator that operates on batteries so it can be used in different care settings, including field hospitals or when patients are transported. The unit is powered by Dyson’s digital motor, which has been specially re-engineered to meet the requirements of the ventilator. The fan units are available in very high volume and the unit conserves oxygen using a rebreathe circuit to deliver high-quality filtration.

According to James Dyson’s email, the company will further donate 5,000 units to the international effort, 1,000 of which will go to the United Kingdom.

The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have been involved throughout the process. However, there’s no word yet on final regulatory approvals, and Dyson’s press office has yet to confirm the date of delivery.

For a video update on the Dyson CoVent project, click here.

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