A number of companies, including the McLaren Group, Airbus and Rolls-Royce, are part of the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium, helping to manufacture medical ventilators for the UK. Meanwhile, the industrial consortium has good news to report, because their new design has secured MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) approval for use in hospitals across the country.
Hundreds of the devices, known as Penlon Prima ESO2, which are updates of a previously existing model, are expected to be built for hospitals over the next week. But the consortium of major firms hopes to produce roughly 1,500 per week by early May, to provide hospitals with medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
The device had undergone stringent testing and clinical trials for the past two weeks. Ventilators of this type are incredibly complex and critical medical equipment, and it was therefore important to them to meet legal standards and clinical needs, said Dick Elsy, the leader of the consortium.
On Thursday, following the device’s approval, the Government has confirmed an order for 15,000 Penlon devices.
Under normal circumstances, Penlon, a medical device maker, would only be able to make 50 to 60 ventilators a week. But now, biggest firms like Siemens, Airbus, Ford, and a number of Formula 1 teams are working with Penlon to adapt its ventilator so that it could be mass-produced at speed.
According to updated MHRA rules, the ESO2 can also be switched on and off more easily, allowing liquid to be regularly drained from patients’ lungs. This is really crucial as the sickest COVID-19 patients can require on an hourly basis.
“Having already commenced deliveries of the Smiths Group’s paraPAC plus devices, we are working closely with our supply chain partners to rapidly scale up production to achieve our target of at least 1,500 units a week of the combined Penlon and Smiths models. I want to take this opportunity to again thank every member of the consortium and the hundreds of dedicated colleagues who have been working day and night to get us to this point,” Dick added.
Many other businesses are also involved in designing new ventilators, including Dyson, and are seeking approval for their design.