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A new medical ventilator to help treat people with severe COVID-19 symptoms was just approved for use in the U.K., reports the BBC.
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Hundreds of Penlon Prima ESO2 units — which are updates of a previously existing model — will be built for hospitals in the next week. The consortium of major firms that collectively developed the new ventilator hopes to produce roughly 1,500 per week by early May, reports BBC.
The U.K. government said it needs to increase its ventilator stock from 10,000 to 18,000 to successfully curb the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, some parties have cast doubt on the optimism, claiming that this goal isn't sufficiently fast.
This comes on the heels of an approval following the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), when on Thursday the U.K. government declared it had confirmed an order for 15,000 new Penlon ventilators.
UPDATE April 16, 5:00 PM EDT: UK Government speaks to COVID-19 crisis
A U.K. Cabinet Office spokesman said of the devices would see delivery in the coming months, and added that the government would continue to assess additional bids from other consortiums.
Michael Gove, Cabinet Secretary, added that it showed "the significant progress being made" after big manufacturers were asked to pool efforts in the bid to produce viable ventilators.
Firms involved in the consortium that made the new ventilator include Airbus, Ford, Siemens, and several Formula 1 teams -- who all worked with Penlon, the medical device maker -- to adapt its earlier ventilator for mass production at great speed.
Under non-pandemic circumstances, Penlon was only capable of producing 50 to 60 ventilators per week.
UPDATE April 16, 5:15 PM EDT: Ventilator specs and Consortium
In agreement to updated MHRA rules, the ESO2 may be switched off and on with less effort, which allows liquid to drain regularly from patients' lungs. This is crucial, since the sickest COVID-19 patients need to drain their lungs on an hourly basis.
The Chair of VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, Dick Elsy, said the device had undergone "stringent testing and clinical trials for the last two weeks," according to the BBC.
"Ventilators of this type are complex and critical pieces of medical equipment, so ensuring the absolute adherence to regulatory standards and meeting clinical needs were always our priorities," he said to BBC.
The Broughton office of Airbus, which manufactures wings for commercial aircraft, in addition to McLaren's Working site and Ford's Dagenham engine factory, are collaborating to produce the new ESO2.
The corporate consortium added that it was accelerating production of an earlier design called the Smiths Group paraPAC, which is effective for patients of COVID-19 with less acute symptoms, said BBC.
However, the U.K. government previously abandoned plans to buy a device developed by a different group that included Red Bull Formula one and Renault teams, because the device they offered was deemed unsuitable for treating COVID-19 coronavirus patients.
This is a breaking story, so be sure to return here for the latest developments.
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