NASA steps in to help develop COVID-19 solutions

Washington: In a bid to find solutions that can address shortage of critical medical equipment like ventilators in tackling the COVID-19 crisis, the US space agency has joined forces with a task force in California to build medical devices to help patients infected with the disease. The US space agency on Friday said its Armstrong Flight Research Center partnered with Antelope Valley Hospital, the City of Lancaster, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company (TSC), and Antelope Valley College to come up with innovative ideas to meet shortage of medical equipment that could arise in future.

One of their first efforts was to build a prototype oxygen hood that has now proven to work for the doctors at the hospital, NASA said, adding that the production of 500 will begin next week at TSC’s Faith Facility in Mojave, California.

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Oxygen hood

The device, developed by NASA engineer Mike Buttigieg, is an oxygen hood for COVID-19 patients exhibiting minor symptoms and will minimise the need for these patients to use ventilators.

The device functions like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to force oxygen into a patient’s low-functioning lungs.

“We looked across our center’s expertise in innovation, engineering, design, and fabrication of unique systems, to bring NASA knowledge and people together to collaborate on solving the needs and challenges brought about by the COVID-19 situation,” said Armstrong Chief Technologist David Voracek.

Canopy

NASA engineer Allen Parker and this team at Armstrong designed a canopy that protects health care workers by safely covering COVID-19 patients while still allowing health care providers access to the patients to provide care.

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“The patient will be located inside this canopy where aerosol viral contaminants will be vacuumed out through a viral filter located within the canopy. In doing so, the health provider can freely work around the patient outside the canopy with minimal risk,” Parker said.

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