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Mercedes-AMG details COVID-19 action plan
Specialist CPAP ventilators the focus for Mercedes-AMG in fight against coronavirus
1 Apr 2020
MERCEDES-AMG has detailed its involvement in the UK’s ‘Project Pitlane’ manufacturing initiative that is helping fight the coronavirus epidemic, focusing its attention on producing continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilators.
As reported, Project Pitlane involves all seven UK-based Formula One teams and their OEM and technical partners pooling their recourses to produce much-needed ventilators for the British National Health System (NHS).
The CPAP ventilators have been reverse engineered with the help of engineers at University College London (UCL) and clinicians at UCL Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust.
According to the German prestige brand’s high-performance vehicle subsidiary, this design of ventilator has been used extensively in Italian and Chinese hospitals to provide extra oxygen for patients with acute lung infections as a result of COVID-19.
They work by constantly channelling an air-oxygen mix into the nose and mouth of patients who have breathing difficulties, thereby keeping the airways open and increasing the amount of oxygen entering the lungs.
Reports out of Italy show that almost 50 per cent of patients provided with a CPAP ventilator have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation – where breaths are delivered directly into the lungs via a tube in the patient’s trachea – although the ventilators are in short supply in the UK, hence the massive production effort.
“These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill,” said UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer.
“We hope they will make a real difference to hospitals across the UK by reducing demand on intensive care staff and beds, as well as helping patients recover without the need for more invasive ventilation.”
Engineers at Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) have worked around the clock with clinicians to disassemble and analyse an off-patent device before using computer simulations to improve the device further and create a state-of-the-art version better suited to mass production.
Mercedes-AMG HPP says it took less than 100 hours for a prototype to be finished after the initial discussions, with managing director Andy Cowell saying the firm was proud to be a part of such an important project, especially given the timeframe and standard to which everything has been completed.
“The Formula One community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the Project Pitlane collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects,” he said.
With the first batch of 100 now finished, the ventilators will be delivered to UCLH for clinical trials before being rolled out in hospitals around the UK ahead of a predicted surge in coronavirus-related admissions.
The current level of success has drawn praise from experts both within and outside the project.
“Given the urgent need, we are thankful that we were able to reduce a process that could take years down to a matter of days,” said Professor Tim Baker of UCL Mechanical Engineering.
Professor David Lomas from UCL Vice Provost Health also paid tribute “to the incredible team of engineers and clinicians at UCL, HPP and UCLH”.
UCLH chief executive Marcel Levi said the project had been a “real team effort” and that “everyone involved in this project should know that their efforts will have a truly significant impact on patient care”.
UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering director Professor Rebecca Shipley said it had been a privilege to not only work closely with her clinical colleagues, but doctors leading the fight against COVID-19 in Italy and China.
The United Kingdom’s total confirmed coronavirus count stood at 25,150 as of 12.29pm AEDT today (April 1), including 1789 deaths and 135 recoveries.
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